10 Apr 2008

As a part of the “CurrentCost craze” that is rife at Hursley these days, I’ve had mine up and running for a few days and am very excited by the possibilities.

The CurrentCost meter gives you a real-time display of how much electricity your house is using. On its own, this would be interesting, but hard to relate to anything. One of its cool features is its awareness of how much electricity actually costs – being told your usage costs £17 per month is much more effective than saying you’re using 1.23kw.

I’m not the only one who has got this meter setup and then obsessively gone around the house to reduce how much is being wasted.

What is great about this particular device, and what appeals to the Hursley crowd, is the ability to plug it into a PC and capture the information it produces. It doesn’t take much plumbing to get the data being graphed online – something which does raise an interesting issue.

I can now see when Jo has got home from work as I see the spike of the kettle being used, but equally, anyone can get a pretty good idea if we’re in the house. Is that a genuine concern? There are certainly easier ways of working out if we’re in or not.

That aside, the graph it produces definitely does give food for thought. Here’s a snapshot of the graph from today (click through for a fully annotated version on flickr):
Power Usage

This graph has left me intrigued to find out what the 100watt-ish blip is that happens every 2 hours; there is a PC running all the time, which has the meter connected – I wonder what cron tasks are configured.

The meter has definitely left me feeling slightly guilty for the 600watts of halogen spot-lights we put in the new kitchen.

  1. Rich CumbersApril 10, 2008

    That graph looks pretty good, excellent standby power during the day, and limited large spikes. Once I have my house tuned slightly better I might well publish my graph, but my storage heaters make me out to be a electricity monster!

  2. nickApril 10, 2008

    Thanks Rich, at least you have your complete energy consumption on the graph; I’m assuming that fact you have storage heaters means you don’t have a gas supply.

    I’m going to investigate options for getting my gas consumption online somehow – I’m hoping my gas meter will have some physical attribute that I can use to digitize and monitor it.

  3. ben • April 13, 2008

    the blips could be from the fridge/freezer, apparently they do blips

    some things i like about this are:

    1. i can be alerted via phone when the kettle is ready, as i don’t hear it, by getting the computer to look for the edge at the end of a 2kw blip

    2. i can be also alerted via phone when the oven’s ready, there’s the straight line while it’s heating up, but then we have blips when it’s trying to stay at the desired temp

    3. with my GPSed phone, i can be alerted when i’ve left the house and the iron switched on (happened twice already!) by putting the two together

    4. as my hot water comes from electricity (currently), it can also warn me if i’ve left the water running in bath for too long by looking for the short blips pattern

    very useful implications from this simple device.

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  11. AlexSeptember 22, 2008

    Hello!

    I don’t know if you managed to get your gas consumption online already. I have a llittle setup that allows me to do that: the gas meter has a reflector number (usually the 0 or the 6) which can be used with an optocloupler to measure gas consumption. Let me know if you want some more details.

  12. jcwFebruary 8, 2009

    Interesting how so many people are starting to hack their homes for energy consumption, etc. I was wondering if you have some information about the accuracy and frequency of measurements made by the CurrentCost monitor. Am currently tracking power and gas meter revolutions and wondering what the differences would be with direct current sensors…

    Yes, as others have said, the fridge is a likely candidate for the peaks. You could turn it off for a few hours to find out.

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