In 2019, the world consumed 170,340 terawatt-hours of energy. That’s a lot, considering that one terawatt equates to one trillion watts. So, that’s 170,340, followed by 12 zeroes.
In short, the world uses too much energy, which is why non-renewable fossil fuels are nearing their end. In fact, research suggests that natural oil will run out by 2052, gas by 2060, and coal by 2090.
That “deadline” is one of the reasons you’d want to monitor energy use in your own home or business. After all, some of your appliances and devices may be using more energy than normal. Your actions and behaviors as a consumer may also be driving your energy consumption.
To that end, we created this guide on tracking your office’s or home’s energy usage. Read on to discover what they are, as they can help you turn your property into an eco-friendly home or office.
According to recent estimates, there are now 107 million smart meters installed in the US. Three in four of these devices, in turn, are in residential properties. Furthermore, experts project there will be 115 million more meter installations this 2021.
If you don’t have one of these smart meters yet, you can request your utility company to set you up with one this year. This way, you can take advantage of the meter’s real-time energy monitoring features.
The simplest way to use a smart meter to monitor your office or home energy use is by checking its display. Unlike old meters with rotating gears and numbers, smart meters have digital displays. The display tells you how many kilowatt-hours the meter has recorded.
To calculate your usage within a 24-hour period, note the time and the numbers you see on the display screen. Then, the following day, look at the meter around the same time you did the day before. You can then deduct the new reading from the previous day’s reading.
So, suppose your smart electricity meter read 12,345 kWh yesterday at 9 AM. At 9 AM today, your meter’s new reading changed to 12,380. This means that within the past 24 hours, your electricity usage was 35 kWh.
Depending on your utility provider, you may also be able to view your energy usage online. However, you’d need to create an account using your customer information first. This way, you can associate your utility customer account info with your smart meter.
After account verification, you can then view your home or office energy use online. Thanks to your smart meter, you can check your hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly usage via the web.
It’s helpful to look at your hourly usage to see which time of the day you use the most energy.
At home, peak usage usually starts early in the afternoon, when everyone is back from school or work. It should then drop later in the evening, once you guys are asleep. The upward pattern should then begin once everyone is awake the following morning.
In the office, the peak usage would be during business hours and then plateau once you close for the day.
Either way, your energy usage shouldn’t be high 24/7. Especially not if you always turn off devices and lights not in use before.
If your office or home energy monitoring reveals otherwise, there may be theft going on. Unfortunately, electricity theft is rampant, causing losses of $25 billion a year worldwide. In the US alone, criminals steal about $6 billion worth of electricity.
If you suspect illegal tapping on your lines, call your utility provider right away. This way, they can investigate and see if someone else may be driving your energy usage.
Go with Plug-and-Play Monitors
As their name suggests, plug-and-play monitors plug straight into an electrical outlet. On the other side of these devices is an outlet into which you’d plug another electronic device.
Once plugged, the monitor would start to analyze the energy usage of the other plugged device. A small panel then displays that device’s energy consumption, usually in watts. So, after about an hour, you can check the display to see how many watts the plugged device has consumed.
As they can only monitor one device at a time, energy monitoring plugs are quite affordable. However, they’re more ideal for cases where you only want to track the energy use of a few large appliances.
Go with a Whole Office or Home Energy Monitoring System
An energy monitoring system uses hardware and software to track real-time energy usage. The hardware is a device that connects either to the meter or to the energy source, such as an electrical panel. The hardware then supplies the software with energy consumption data.
Some systems also come with a smart device, such as a tablet, which acts as a control and display panel. This is where you can see data about your energy usage and, in some cases, even what’s using energy. For example, you can see how much energy your space heater or air conditioner consumes.
With other systems, you only need to download and install an app from a website, Google Play, or the Apple App Store. The program could then serve as both the control and display panel of the monitor.
Aside from monitoring, some of these systems also come with energy management features. For example, they can help you save energy by sending notifications or reminders. These messages can be about appliances or lights that you forgot to turn off.
Monitoring systems can also determine which appliances use too much energy. To do this, they often obtain data from an energy API marketplace about similar equipment. They then compare your devices’ actual usage with the data they acquired.
In doing so, they help you figure out if you have energy-vampire devices. From there, you can decide if it’s time to have your devices tuned up or get them replaced.
Monitor Energy Use to Conserve Both Your Money and the Planet
One last reminder: Every kWh of generated electricity emits almost a pound of CO2. Such emissions, in turn, are among the biggest culprits behind global warming.
That should be a good enough reason to monitor energy use at home or the office. This way, you can make necessary changes to reduce your energy consumption. In doing so, you can cut not only your carbon footprint but your energy bills, too.
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