April 14, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
Gene Goodell stands by the products he sells at RCS Technology. He knows first-hand how they well they work. After installing the company’s line of energy management products in his own 2,100-square-foot San Diego home, Goodell shaved $150 off his monthly electricity bill. The savings have accumulated month by month, allowing Goodell to recoup his investment in just six months. Of course, Goodell used his employee discount to buy the products; he says non-RCS employees would pay less than $1,000 for a full system. (San Diego’s average electric rate of 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is higher than the national average of 13 cents, a typical household can expect an ROI in less than a year.)
RCS has been in the business of energy management for nearly 20 years, selling mainly programmable thermostats, heating and cooling controls, and home automation systems. While thermostats can definitely help curb a household’s energy consumption, Goodell credits his success mainly to the company’s new monitoring tools. Announced recently at the EHX trade show in Orlando, the Table Top In-Home Display indicates in real time how much electricity is being used. The wireless device receives consumption data from RCS thermostats as well as from a power monitoring modules that attaches to a home’s electrical panel and to appliances like refrigerators, dryers and dishwashers; and a power monitoring and control module that transmits kW consumption info from pool pumps, electric water heaters and HVAC systems.
From the readout provided by the Table Top Display, Goodell was able to determine which loads were sucking up the most power and when. In his case, the biggest energy culprits were the three computers in his house. Like many families, the Goodells left their PCs on all day. “With each machine eating nearly 300 watts of power an hour, it added up to a lot of wasted energy,” Gene says.
Besides the Display, another piece that’s helping the Goodells get a handle on their energy use is RCS’s new TZ245 wireless Z-Wave digital thermostat. The screen of the stat serves also as an In-Home Display, and can switches from green to red as an alert that you’ve exceeded a predetermined level of household energy consumption. “At that point we can decide what to do, whether that’s adjust the AC or wait to run the dishwasher.”
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.