You may think you know how much electricity you're using, but there's a whole lot more you could--and should--know.
Despite living in the information age, most of us are basically in the dark when it comes to electricity bills, with just a rough idea of how much we consume every month and what it will cost.
Over the last few weeks, I've been testing a whole-house energy monitor from startup Wattvision, which actually answers basic questions, such as how much and when you consume electricity and how it trends over time. I also hooked up my home's real-time electricity feed to another startup's analytics Web service called PlotWatt to get more detail on what's consuming energy.
A couple of hardware gadgets made it all possible, but using the services showed me that a lot of the action in home energy is moving to software and up into the cloud. In the case of energy monitors, back-end analytics can provide insights and recommendations a simple metering device can't. And if you have a smart thermostat or home automation system, you can remotely control your heating, cooling, lights, and appliances from a smart phone or PC.
But before getting into the gadgetry, one has to ask: why bother with energy monitoring? Is it green? Does it help me lower my bills? Is there a good payback? … Read more