Device gives you power over the utility bill
Winter’s just around the corner now, and for a lot of folks it’s bringing not just wetter, colder weather, but higher energy bills, too. We’re an enlightened bunch in this little county, so a lot of us try to keep our energy bills low.
But how do we go about that? There are the usual recommendations for better insulation, keeping devices turned off that you’re not using, and so on, but how do you really know what devices in your home are using power, how much they’re using and how that affects your power bill? Enter WattVision, a small startup that’s been around for a couple of years now, successfully selling devices that you can attach to your PG&E power meter to monitor your energy usage in real time, right from your laptop. PG&E sort of offers a similar service, but it’s not updated in real time and doesn’t provide useful enough information about your energy usage. Say, for example, that you’d like to get a real idea of how much energy that beastly old toaster uses. Grandma’s toaster is steel-clad, reliable and likely to survive the next apocalypse unscathed.
So you drop in a couple of slices of bread, push the lever down, walk over to your slightly-less-trusty laptop and load up your personal WattVision page. Within 10 seconds, your energy graph shows – whoa, that toaster uses a lot of power! Having real-time access to a graph of your energy usage can turn energy conservation into a game. How low will that graph go? The devices cost about $250, so depending on your energy habits, it might take several months to make your money back on it. But if, like me, you’re a bit of a data geek, you’ll love their graphs and the ability to easily download your energy usage data.
The devices include indefinite access to WattVision’s online system, and they work with all kinds of power meters – including the new digital PG&E meters that a lot of people seem to dislike. WattVision’s website is cleanly designed and easy to use, so have a look at it and see what it’s about. For more information about the meter reader, visit (http://www.wattvision.com/).
Have a question for the Computer Sleuth? Rob Sheldon is the owner of No Problem and can be reached by sending an email to email@example.com.