Home Energy Monitoring - Level 2
The most basic way to monitor your home energy use is to check the usage on your bill and enter the usage into a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, energy bills only come every month or two, so you only get an idea of the total monthly usage and don't get to see how it changes from day to day. What I call Level 2 Home Energy Monitoring involves periodically going outside to check your meter and recording the value in a spreadsheet. I would recommend once a day at the same time of day. Now you can create a spreadsheet with a much finer time resolution. Of course the more often you check, the better your time resolution, but also the more work it means for you (see Home Energy Monitoring: Level 3 for tools that will automatically record energy usage).
First of all, you will have to figure out how to read your meter. The major utilities have some how-to's that you can read:
Then you will have to put your data into a spreadsheet. I've created a new daily usage spreadsheet that you can download. This spreadsheet includes a worksheet for electricity and natural gas.
From the data, I can create a graph for each month to view how energy use changes from day to day. For example, here is the data from January:
The cheap way to get a finer time resolution on your energy use data is to periodically go out and read your meter. If you do this daily, you can create a spreadsheet like the one above. If you do the readings more than once a day, then you can get an idea of how your energy use changes throughout the day. Obviously, taking multiple readings a day would be very time consuming, so read the post on Home Energy Monitoring: Level 3 to find out how to automate meter readings.