August 29, 2011
| by Steven Castle
You’ve got to hand it to Blue Line Innovations. It’s PowerCost Monitor is one of the most basic energy monitoring devices available, yet it’s racking up the interesting software partnerships—the latest with PlotWatt, makers of the PlotWatt Energy Dashboard.
Blue Line’s PowerCost Monitor with Wi-Fi Gateway ($159) can now combine with PlotWatt’s cloud-based software so homeowners to see both their real-time whole-home energy use and appliance level spending. No additional hardware or “smart plugs” are required. PlotWatt’s patent-pending algorithms identify appliance-specific data signatures from a whole-house meter, and report the appliance-level costs to the homeowner. The dashboard also displays energy-saving recommendations.
PlotWatt receives live data feeds every 32 seconds from the PowerCost Monitor WiFi Gateway, which is broadly available at Lowes, Amazon and other select retailers.
The partnered solution is also available to PowerCost customers using Google’s PowerMeter or Microsoft Hohm, both of which are to be discontinued.
“This is a real game changer for homeowners,” says Peter Porteous, CEO Blue Line Innovations. “It has already been proven that displaying real-time energy data can help users achieve 5 to 15 percent energy reductions. With no extra hardware cost or subscription fee, PlotWatt users can now see exactly how much key appliances are using, and perhaps even more importantly, users can see personalized, customized energy saving recommendations that can push those savings even higher. We have been test driving the PlotWatt dashboard for nine months and this is the real deal—the data is impressive but the results are even more impressive.”
Porteous adds: “With no additional hardware cost, the addition of PlotWatt data reduces the ROI (return on investment) timeline for most families to six months or less, making this a very compelling addition to the home.” The PowerCost Monitor features a universal optical sensor that slips over the outside of virtually any electricity meter and then feeds that energy data in real time up through a WiFi Gateway to the PlotWatt dashboard. It’s a simple, step-by-step installation with no
PlotWatt was a recent winner of the GE Ecomagination Challenge, one of five winners selected from over 800 submissions. PlotWatt’s cloud-based algorithms analyze the real-time electricity data and identify unique appliance data signatures. These can be used to report energy usage in kWhs or dollars for major appliance groups in the home: heating, AC, refrigeration, clothes dryer, pumps and, of course, always-on waste. Mobile and tablet apps are expected by the end of the year.
Last month Blue Line announced a partnership with People Power, which can display energy sage reported from a PowerCost Monitor via a mobile app on an iPhone, iPad or Android-based phone—as well as offer social media comparisons and a competitive game in the form of energy quizzes.
At this time, The PowerCost Monitor with WiFi Gateway software and installation is designed for PC/Windows machines only. Blue Line says it is committed to developing and releasing a version of the software for Apple/MAC users by the end of 2011.
Porteous says Blue Line will also offer its PlotWatt package to utilities with a free real time roll-up view of their participating customer base. “We believe this will prove to be eye-opening data for the utilities as well.”
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