Reducing electricity bills using a remote monitor

Mar 12 2012 0 Comments Tags: electricity, waste

Last year Gavin of the Greening of Gavin blog ran a challenge over several weeks to reduce home power consumption (see the first part here), and I realised that, in comparison to other people who joined in, our consumption is relatively high (at the time it was 16 kWh/day).  I had also been seeing heaps of ads for the Queensland Government Climate Smart home service, which has been running for a couple of years now.  As part of the service you get a visit from an electrician, who fits a remote digital power monitor to your meter box, and you get remote controlled "standby eliminators", power saving lightbulbs and some good advice, all for $50.  I thought that might be a good way to reduce our power consumption, so I requested an appointment late last year, and we had our service a couple of weeks ago.

Wireless power monitor
The minute the electrician left we started playing with the meter.  We turned things off, turned them on, turned them down, trying to get our usage below our target of 10c/hour and work out which appliances were using the most power.  We were stuck on 18c/hr even with all fridges and freezers and almost every appliance in the house turned off.  Finally my husband remembered that the shed lights were on.  Turns out that 10 flouro lights can use 8c/hr, because as soon as they were off, we went back to an acceptable level.  Now that we know that, I think we will be more careful with our lights, as we also have a few flouros inside the house as well, which we tend to just leave on (the house is quite dark otherwise), so its good to know that they are using so much power.  I was a bit scared to turn on my food dehydrator, but when I did it only added a cent or two, phew!  The slow cooker is the next target though!

I think having this meter will really make a difference to our electricity use.  First we can use it to identify which appliances are using the most electricity and think about what we are using, possibly changing our fridge and freezer arrangements.  Also, when we are not using anything in particular, we can have a look at the meter and we should see it around 6-10c/hour depending on the ambient temperature, if the power use is too high, then we can have a look for what's been left on.

If you're in QLD, you should apply for the service as soon as possible, as it will be finishing off in December this year, and you never know what will happen with the (potential) change of government in a few weeks time.  If you're outside of QLD, you can buy your own monitor and get an electrician to install it.  It only took 10 minutes to install, so shouldn't be a big job!    They are available on the internet (for example here), with prices ranging $50-150, and from hardware/electrical stores. You can also get ones that plug into individual appliances (no electrician needed), which I think are less useful, but better than nothing if you can't afford the meter box one (or renting).

What are your tips for reducing your electricity consumption?

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