Home Energy Monitoring - Level 3
For Level 2 home energy monitoring, you need to manually get readings from your meters on at least a daily basis - this is pretty time consuming. On top of that, you really need to do things more than daily because your average daily energy use is not likely to change much from day to day (although it might change from weekday to weekend). The more interesting variation is how your energy usage changes throughout the day. To manually get hour to hour readings would be prohibitive; fortunately, there is a wide range of devices that will automatically get the readings for you. The wide variety of these monitors will allow most people to find one in their budget and with the features they need. In general, these meters will monitor your energy usage in real time; in other words, they will tell you at any moment exactly how much power (i.e., energy per second) your house is using.
These home energy monitors start at about $100. The most basic models will still require you to manually record readings, but at least you will be able to take the meter readings inside. The more advanced models will store the data for you and provide you some software for monitoring your energy usage. Some systems will even allow you to plot and compare your data from anywhere in the world.
I did a basic survey of some commonly available home energy monitors here. I really wanted to integrate with Google PowerMeter (which is no longer available), so I narrowed my choice down to Current Cost Envi, or the TED-5000 and then did an in-depth comparison of the two here. Ultimately, I chose the TED-5000 and now have one monitoring my energy usage at home.
Regardless of which monitor you choose, the result will be that you will be able to see how your energy use changes throughout the day providing you with more data on how you can reduce your overall energy usage.
Here are some examples of the type of data I got from Google PowerMeter:
Note that the weekly usage shows the energy used each day in kWh, while the daily usage shows the power used at each moment over the course of the day (updated every 5 minutes). I can also download all of the data into a spreadsheet so that I can see all of the actual readings.
Automatic energy monitors can give you minute by minute updates on your home energy and power usage which will really simplify your data collection and even your data plotting responsibility. Such a fine time resolution allows you to see how your energy usage changes over the day and helps you to identify what items in your house are using the most electricity.
See the Home Energy Audit post to learn how to measure energy usage by individual lights, appliances and electronics.