Is your Refrigerator Running?

When you get your electricity bill at the end of the month, you know how much power you used but it’s very hard to figure out how you used that power.  Which appliance is being the biggest glutton for electricity?  Did switching all your light bulbs to CFLs actually make a difference?  How much did it cost you to fall asleep with the TV on last night?  To answer questions like this, we’re teaming up with internet-connected power meter creators to automatically bring home and appliance specific electricity information into your WattzOn profile.

The basic idea behind all power meters is that you plug them into an outlet and then you plug an electrical appliance into them.  This lets the device track how much power the appliance is using as the electricity passes through.  The devices we are working with then continually send this data wirelessly to an internet-connected computer so that the data can be collected and examined.

WattzOn has created a central location to present the collected information as an easy-to-explore interactive graph – to help you understand what goes into your electric bill each month. You can also get instantaneous feedback on how effective your energy saving choices (such as, say, turning off your television when you leave the room) are with regards to your personal power consumption.

Check out the first two devices that we are supporting:

ACme

WattzOn is accepting live data collected by ACme units – the same units being used in the Green Soda Project at Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  The Green Soda Project is an effort to reduce the energy consumption of Berkeley’s Soda Hall by monitoring power consumption in real-time using ACme – an open source hardware and software platform developed by Xiaofan (Fred) Jiang that enables wireless energy/power measurement and control of AC devices using a mesh network. The ACme node fills the gap between inexpensive LCD watt-meters (e.g. Kill-A-Watt) and expensive networked enterprise energy monitors.  Though you can’t get an ACme device yourself just yet, commercial versions will be available soon.  In the meantime, check out Fred’s public profile to see what his appliances are up to!

Right now, ACme devices are sending WattzOn data via the internet, and WattzOn is continuously updating Fred’s profile.  As you can see, WattzOn provides an interactive graph that allows you to zoom in on any time frame and see the electricity profile for each appliance on the network.  You can observe when the monitored appliances turn on and off and see which are contributing the most to your electricity usage.  Knowing, for example, that the PlayStation 3 uses the most power of any of your electronics is a good reason to make sure it is turned off when not in use!

Tweet-A-Watt

WattzOn also supports the Tweet-A-Watt, a Kill-a-Watt power meter modified to “tweet” the daily power consumed by the connected appliance to a Twitter account.  The creators (Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries and Phillip Torrone of  MAKE magazine) decided to make the project open-source and have published instructions online.  So, if you have a Kill-A-Watt you’d like to vivisect and you’re comfortable with a soldering iron, you can make one of these gizmos yourself using this kit!

Adafruit has 3 Tweet-A-Watts in their offices – each hooked up to a different set of electronics.  As you can see from the screenshot below, some appliances (like the computers) are always on while some (like the lab equipment/tools) are periodically used.

You can always see the latest data from Adafruit’s Tweet-A-Watts on their public profile!

DIY

These are just the first of many devices that WattzOn is linking to in order to provide our users with the most accurate tools to automatically monitor their power consumption.

But, we’re very excited to add support for any power meters you may be using or creating!  Check out our user Kelvin, who created his own type of power meter and is using our API to keep track of a whole bunch of his appliances on his WattzOn profile. (and, keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post where we interview him about his efficiency efforts!) We’re also brainstorming with the people at Wattvision and Pachube right now.  It’s our goal to get as many people working in the power meter space talking, so that we can all work together to improve the tools for home efficiency.

If you have a device that you would like us to support – or, if you’d be interested in getting one for your own home, please let us know at us [at] wattzon.com!

This is the future of personal energy monitoring – why don’t we go catch it?


About

WattzOn Labs is always innovating ways to engage people to save water and energy. It showcases the WattzOn products under the WattzOn Labs private-label. We don’t market these products, but use this small-scale direct-to-consumer experience to constantly evolve and learn. Then we apply the findings to the rich, private-label products used by all our customers at WattzOn.