December 26, 2008 by Steven Castle
We’re all in savings mode these days—and if you’re looking for a way to monitor all your energy consumption, an Agilewaves system could be your best bet.
This is not one of those jerry-rigged systems that mounts onto your electric meter. Agilewaves can monitor your electricity, gas and water use, as well as keep track of how much you’re saving with an alternative energy system like solar, wind or geothermal heating. You get a readout of usage by hour, day, month or year—with pie charts to show your top carbon consumers for the last week—on a computer or control system touchscreen. You can even go back six years if you change appliances and want to see the savings. Remote access to the information is also possible.
Agilewaves uses sensors at the gas and water mains and electrical panel to measure your energy use. This data is sent over Ethernet cabling to an Agilewaves Data Acquisition System, a small web server the size of Mac Mini and that draws under 20 watts of power. The computations are done there, based on local utility rates, and sent a computer or control system.
A home installation can run anywhere from $5,000 to $85,000, depending on the size and scope and the number of sensors. The basic $5,000 system will get you sensors at the gas main, water main, five individual electrical circuits, and all software and all hardware, though that does not include installation, according to Agilewaves vice president Collin Breakstone. Sensors can also be added to individual electrical outlets.
Installations are being done mainly by custom electronics professionals. And while one might think that Agilewaves is the perfect add-on for that slick high-end home control system, Breakstone says that many homes with Agilewaves report their data to standalone computers.
We expect to see many more high- and mid-market home projects adding Agilewaves—and many with control systems—as the cost of the system can be recouped in a few years. “Studies show that feedback alone decreases people’s consumption by 10 to 15 percent,” Breakstone says. “But instantaneous feedback an decrease one’s consumption by more than 20 percent.”
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
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