Lines are forming, preorders being filled, sold out signs are on web sites. The great “must haves” for the holiday season have a new member, TED. An acronym for The Energy Device, it is a real-time gauge of your home’s energy use. For a few years now, TED has been used by professionals and curious home owners to measure and greatly reduce home electricity consumption. By measuring at a glance and in real-time energy usage (in KW), you can quickly zero in on what is wasting energy, when, and how much it costs.
So why is this meter so hot now? The makers of the T.E.D. have come out with a new model, the T.E.D. 5000, and have teamed up with Google to provide this information to you anywhere, at any time, on any device that has web access. This is very cool stuff because the all the graphs, energy costs, as well as your current electrical usage can be critical if you really want to tame your energy consumption. This $240 energy meter works by hooking up inductive sensors and a sending unit at your electrical box (this may require a professional electrician). A display inside tells you the measurements and is connected to a Google server through the home’s internet connection. You now have access to a wealth of information about your energy consumption and cost, both current, past and projected on your home computer or even your iPhone or Android.
We are going to pour billions of dollars into “smart grids,” but those smart grids get pretty dim witted when they enter your house. All those solar panels and wind turbines will only make a dent in the power consumption predicted in the coming decades if conservation does not play a significant role. Think of it as “nega-watts”. A Colorado State University study of local high school’s energy consumption has demonstrated that energy awareness and conservation are just as effective as green building. It turns out the smartest meter is you. How much does that new TV use, or that old freezer, or all of your power adapters? Now that you know, you can switch them off or change them out and see your power consumption numbers drop dramatically. Hidden devices like fans, lights, heaters, pumps, etc, that are on needlessly can be detected.
Ok, all you environmentalists. Here’s the deal. Your home is your own biggest single contributor to greenhouse gas (20% of all GHG in fact). Electricity production is the reason this is so. Currently the electricity that enters your house is the dirtiest form of energy we use, and reducing it is the easiest and cheapest way to affect your contribution to our collective climate change. With this in mind, as far as gifts go this year, the TED 5000 with Google’s PowerMeter software (if you can find one) should be at the top of your wish list.