Lord Kelvin, the creator of the Kelvin Scale, is credited with saying “ the first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.” [PLA, vol. 1, "Electrical Units of Measurement", 1883-05-03]
Kelvin’s insights help us as we try to wrestle with AND CHANGE our electrical usage. We cannot get a handle on our electrical usage until we can measure it accurately and easily.
For the past generation we have come to expect cheap and plentiful energy, so we basically purchased it without the least bit of forethought. The electricity was so beneficial and so useful that it was worth whatever we needed to pay. We simply used as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted and then simply paid for it after the fact.
That would be like walking through the grocery store day after day and simply filling your cart whenever you wanted, with whatever you wanted. Then heading back to the store tomorrow to do the same. At the end of the month you would write one check to pay off the tab. Of course that strategy at the grocery store would seem ridiculous, because we would not be able to keep track of our grocery usage or how much we currently owed!
This is how we STILL purchase electricity. We have no real way to track our energy usage other than looking back at the previous month’s usage. It is like trying to drive the correct speed in our car simply by looking in the rear-view mirror. It is hard enough trying to figure out how fast we are going even if we are looking forward. Unless we have a “speedometer” we cannot truly measure our speed.
A whole house energy monitor is simply a speedometer for the electrical usage at your house. It gives an instant snapshot of your energy usage. By getting the instant snapshot one is able to figure out the fixtures and devices that are using most of your electricity. For most of us we have a whole bunch of “loads” that actually do not improve our quality of life.
It is a moral imperative for us to keep our money! Why send money to the utility when we don’t need too? Studies have shown that the average house has close to 30% of the electrical usage being swallowed up in “phantom loads.” These are loads that add no value to your life.
For instance a DVD player we own pulls 40 watts when it is off. When it is on and in use it pulls 400 watts. If it is used for 2 hours in the evening it has pulled 800 watt hours. The other 22 hours of the day it has pulled 40 x 22 or 880 watt hours. In other words, the DVD player pulls more electricity when it is off than when it is being used. Over a 100% waste factor! The only solution to this phantom load is to shut the DVD player totally off from any current using a switchable power strip. With a switchable power strip you can totally cut off all power and save over 100% of the electrical usage of many appliances and gadgets.
There is a good chance that 30% of your total electrical bill is totally wasted on these types of phantom loads. Why pay that money? That may be fine with others, but for you—- you can get a handle on these phantom loads, and all of your electrical usage using a whole house energy monitor. This is one of the only tools that allows you to really get a handle on all of your appliances. The small plug in electrical monitors (for instance the Kill-A-Watt) can check the electrical usage of one outlet– which is useful. However the only way to measure large appliances like Hot water heaters, stoves, ovens, AC units, etc is with a whole house energy monitor, like the Current Cost EnviR Energy Monitor. The right tool can make the job a breeze.
With a whole house energy monitor that allows you keep track of your energy usage you will be able to set a baseline and begin to decrease your energy usage by knocking out phantom load once and for all.
And believe me, killing phantom loads feels great! I personally get great satisfaction tracking these phantoms down and exterminating them.You will know what I mean when you get an electrical bill back with a savings of 15-30%. Lean feels awesome!