In my past article about home power use I recommended the Kill-A-Watt to monitor individual device power use rather than a whole home unit like Sense. I figured the big stuff was obvious to change (water heater, lights, etc) and the small stuff couldn’t be worth $300 plus professional install (optional but recommended) given the low cost of power in the Northwest.
Since then Emporia Energy has come out with the Vue starting at $50 to monitor just the mains, or $99 with 8 individual circuit monitors. While you still have to consider install, it is DIY capable for most handy homeowners. Needless to say, this is a bit more Eco Friendly Cheapass friendly, so I bought one.
So what does Vue get you that a Kill-A-Watt doesn’t? First off 240v devices and hardwired devices you might not otherwise see like your furnace blower, ceiling fans, dishwasher, etc. You also will see loads you never considered like an attic fan.
Unlike Sense, Vue doesn’t try to identify individual devices only circuits. So I still think a Kill-A-Watt is useful to identify where power is going once you identify a circuit using a lot of power (for circuits with multiple devices on it).
So what are my results? After my first few weeks of trying it out I made a few adjustments which helped cut around 200kWh (about $20) off the December bill.
Aside from that I actually gained a lot of comfort with knowing where all my power was going. I now know 45% of our December power goes to the cars and now when bills fluctuate I can see if that’s related to driving patterns or other home use. The old dishwasher from the last homeowner I was worried about only uses a bit over one kWh per cycle (more than new units, but not enough to be worth changing). I also discovered an unknown power draw of 60 watts which I’m still hunting down.
The biggest downside is that home power meters help identify usage but not unusual use or areas for improvement. So for example you can see your beer fridge is using 300kWh monthly, but you need to do the research to realize that’s more than triple a new fridge’s power consumption.
However I hope this won’t dissuade you from the idea of a home power meter, rather set expectations you’ll have to do some legwork yourself to make the most out of the data you collect.
Interested in trying out the Vue? Grab one here and support the ecofriendlycheapass.com blog!