I am going to be focusing on something that hits more people at their homestead.  With today’s rising energy rates and the complex fee structures you can be smacked with some pretty insane bills.  Electricity is one of the easier ones to monitor so I’m going to be focusing on some ways I’m attempting to reign in my power usage this winter. This isn’t a long winded thing about saving the planet and preventing global warming, this is about saving money on your power bills, leave more money in your wallet and less in tiers.

I recently ordered a home energy meter from TED (The Energy Detective), the TED 5000-C which clamps onto your power mains and tells you how much power your using. Not only can it tell you your current power consumption, it can also associate unique power signatures to devices in your home and tell you when they were on and off as well as provide complex statistics to you to help you reduce or manage your energy expenses.  You may be thinking to yourself, “Well! I always do the same things and use the same amount of power and nothing will change that”, please read on.

A lot of us, especially the younger folks, don’t see how the power companies have worked their billing to be on the verge of deceptive and at the very least, confusing to us. My own power company doesn’t even provide a proper bill, they just say you used x amount of kWh you owe us $x amount.  They don’t explain any tiering of cost per kWh, variations in cost from month to month, or standard monthly delivery fees vs what was actually spent on power.  I find it really odd that they can get away with that. They also do not provide detailed billing information on their website.

The two most common variations of the power company’s billing concepts which can come as a surprise and just leave us dumping tens of dollars, if not hundreds, into our power bills every month or every couple of months without really knowing how to fix it.

The first method which power companies use is tiered billing.  As a general example if you pay for 500KWh (Kilo-Watt hours) you pay a certain rate, if you use 1000kWh it’s likely that your rate will go up. For most normal people this is confusing.  Usually as you buy more of something your cost goes down. This is not the case for power, these dudes have it worked out to totally scalp you.  While their costs go down for higher quantity, yours go up and I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for this that involves profit. For this type of billing it’s best to cut back on as much power use as possible to keep below the tiers to avoid the more expensive electricity.

The second method they use is peak billing. If you were to turn on all of your equipment all at once in your home, you would create a peak demand which would affect the rate at which you were charged for power. The higher your peak, the higher your per/kWh costs. By limiting your peak kWh usage at any one time and spreading out loads throughout the day you can reduce the level of your peak usage and maybe save some money there too.

Anyways, I will post more information as I have it, and I’m going to post and install and usage video as well.  Stay tuned!

Alright, I’ve received the TED 5000-C today (Nov 23rd) and installed it and after a few minor hitches got it up and running. I’ve posted some photos and other information over on my home blog and you can get to the article “Review: Monitoring Power Usage With TED 5000-C