Want Better Electricity Information? Do It Yourself!

Lynne Kiesling

Want better information about your electricity consumption, even if your premise does not have a utility “smart meter”? Do it yourself! Here are some examples, using in-home power meters and the home’s broadband connection to collect the electricity consumption data at WattzOn, an online energy tracking and monitoring tool. The idea is straightforward; you plug your devices into a power meter, and have that power meter report the data to your account at WattzOn.

Of course, the problem is that even if you have digital intelligence inside your home, you still have dumb pricing, so have therefore not acheived the potential consumer welfare benefits of a truly transactive retail electric power market. The technology is like one hand clapping, which is why regulatory reform to allow dynamic pricing, and ultimately retail competition, is necessary for creating the potential value from digital energy technology.

But it does still raise the interesting possibility of disintermediating the vertically integrated utility, especially if you have these in-home intelligent devices and you have on-site generation.

3 thoughts on “Want Better Electricity Information? Do It Yourself!

  1. Lynne, My comment is really a question.

    Why are there no dynamic pricing energy cooperatives?

    It seems to me that all essential life utilities need to evolve away from the ‘for profit only models’ towards a more collaborative ‘more than profit model’ where the buying power of the end consumer is the driver. I know there are cooperatives operating in the energy supply/generation market place but am not aware of any that utilise affordable energy digital technology in conjunction with dynamic pricing to leverage consumer buying power to not only save money for people but to stimulate positive behaviour to further reduce energy consumption through changing habits while also facilitating increased adoption of all types of energy saving equipment.

  2. Make magazine had a recent issue devoted to “sustainability”. They had an interesting hack of a “Kill-a-watt” meter, to make it wireless and to transfer the data to a PC. The next step would be to use a low power microcontroler to upload the data to a network drive, so that you wouldn’t need a PC on all the time.

    All this is “do it yourself”. Soldering and programming required.

    There are some other devices out there that allow you to follow your usage right from your electric meter outside. A combination of this and a Kill-a-watt would probably be necessary to really understand where your electric usage is coming from.

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