Lower Your Electricity Bill With The Energy Joule Monitor

Sure, the Kill-a-Watt power meter is great for helping you measure just how many little lightning bolts your appliances are eating every day (confession: we don’t really know how electricity works), but the new Energy Joule network monitor provides an entirely different level of feedback, so that you can throttle your consumption at times when energy is most expensive.

It’s basically a fancy nightlight with the guts of an Ambient Devices product, which means it connects to Ambient’s pager-like network and gets updated with information about your local energy cost and usage several times each hour. Energy prices can fluctuate throughout the day, so the idea is you’d be able to see when prices are in the “there-goes-the-college-fund” range and turn off your hungriest appliances for a few hours. It’s currently available in NYC and select other areas on a case by case basis, and there are plans to expand the program in the coming months.

You save money, there are more little lightning bolts to share with the rest of the grid, and one more baby penguin will be able to take another year of tap. Or something like that.

Energy Joule [Ambient Devices]

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  1. Toof_75_75 says:

    Wow! DO WANT!

  2. QuirkyRachel says:

    That is really neat. I hope they expand that. The only problem is that you’d have to watch it, unless there’s a way for it to automatically adjust the temp in your home to accommodate more expensive energy?

  3. kenposan says:

    While an interesting idea, who is going to sit and wait to see when to use something?

    I think, in general, electricty costs more during business hours because there is greater consumption, so it would be wise to put of things like laundry until evening hours.

  4. Hanke says:

    Except for one major problem with doing this for ‘cost’. 99% of homes pay a flat rate for electricity.

    On an environmental level, however, it does make sense in reducing peak load on the grid, thus reducing the power that needs to be generated.

  5. milty45654 says:

    Energy Joule Meter Required power: 1.21 jiggawatts!!!….”How could I have been so stupid!”

  6. @kenposan: You’d think but no. Its when people first get up in the morning and moreso at 5ish when everyone gets home and cranks up the AC and stuff.

  7. crichardson79 says:

    who cares

  8. JustAGuy2 says:

    I don’t understand the appeal here, since retail energy bills aren’t (as far as I know) adjusted for time of day. The benefits would be incredibly indirect (i.e. enough people use these so peak time energy demand is reduced so peak time prices go down so utilities pay less for energy so prices are lower the next time the regulators set them), hardly seems worth it.

  9. savvy9999 says:

    My power company doesn’t break down usage into different rates based on time of day, so this is not very useful for me and other consumers like me.

    I have never lived anywhere where consumer/household rates were calculated this way (although in the same area, retail and manufacturers were given incentives to use less during peak hours).

  10. @savvy9999:
    Ditto. A constant rate per kilowatt-hour is the norm here.

  11. Harlan says:

    From the EnergyJoule web site:

    This product is only available to customers of Consumer Powerline and cannot be ordered off the Internet.

    Looking at the Consumer Powerline web site, it’s just in beta testing, and only to a limited number of locations in NYC. And only to ” multifamily residential complexes, commercial property owners, institutional users (hospitals and schools), and industrials.”

    Consumerist should pull this story. It’s not ready for the consumer yet.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    Cute, but who pays a variable rate for their electricity in their home? No one around here does.

    Also, I have a real issue with this device because of this:
    “The Joule receives its information through a pager network and does not measure anything in your space.”

    What good does that do?!?

    I have a different meter, one which actually measures what you’re using and has far more features:
    http://www.theenergydetective.com . I thought I had mostly scaled back my energy usage to as low as I could get it, but through the use of this meter, I’ve been able to shave another 15% off my bill.

  13. FLConsumer says:

    hmm… the hyperlink didn’t work… [www.theenergydetective.com]

    There we go.

  14. Sudonum says:

    Gulf Power in the FL panhandle offers on demand rates to residential customers. And I believe Entergy in LA has offered it in the past as well. However if you really want to lower your bill, turn the meter over and run it backwards for one week a month. You’ll cut your bill in half. At least we did when I shared a house with 4 other guys when I was in college. That was quite a few years ago though. Don’t know if I’d try that now though.

  15. bohemian says:

    We pay a flat rate for electricity. I did look and we can get on a program where you can sign up to use peak and off peak rates. The peak is like 18 cents and off peak is 2-3 cents. They also offer the 15% discount for the AC control switch where they cycle your AC unit off and on during peak times.
    I am trying to figure out if our core usage during the day is low enough to actually save money or not.
    Were on xcel (in the midwest).

  16. Melov says:

    @Hanke: Where do you live? No one I know pays a flat rate.

  17. Chicago7 says:

    A giant used to work, too. But now they make those darn wheels out of aluminum.

  18. Chicago7 says:

    That should read “a giant MAGNET”! D’oh!

  19. Chicago7 says:

    ComEd has a peak rate thing in Chicago. But there’s a catch:

    The first 110,000 customers to enroll in the Residential Real-Time Pricing Program will pay an additional $2.25 per month service charge on their bill to cover a portion of the costs associated with the installation of a new meter that is capable of maintaining hourly usage data. Additional program participants may face a higher monthly service fee and other program-related installation costs.

    You have to pay a fee to save them money! ComEd is one of the biggest dickwad companies ever. They are whining about have to declare bankruptcy, while paying dividends on their stock.

  20. Chicago7 says:

    ComEd in Chicago has the peak usage program, but you have to pay for it:

    The first 110,000 customers to enroll in the Residential Real-Time Pricing Program will pay an additional $2.25 per month service charge on their bill to cover a portion of the costs associated with the installation of a new meter that is capable of maintaining hourly usage data. Additional program participants may face a higher monthly service fee and other program-related installation costs.

    That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it, ComEd?

  21. Xkeeper says:

    Even if we had variable rates here, I’m sure it’d always be in the “red” zone, if only because it can’t go any higher.

    Yeah, Nevada Power sucks.

  22. TVarmy says:

    @QuirkyRachel: Hmm. That sounds like a job for an X11 controller and a BASH script running on a PC with a VIA processor. Someone else build it, I’m tired.

    I’m surprised so many people seem to pay for flat-rate electricity. I live in NJ, and everyone has demand-based pricing. It just makes sense. The power company wants constant demand, and overproducing/underproducing is a hassle, so they want people to use more power off peak, and less power over-peak. Variable pricing lets them encourage this, and it’s also good for the environment as a more efficient power plant equals one that needs less fuel and pollutes less. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because it lets me save on running the washing machine, dishwasher, and other appliances at night. Plus, when electric cars/plug in hybrids come back, it will make electricity even cheaper as a mode of transportation. (Even at peak prices, it’s cheaper than gas, but I digress)

    Really, I see no good reason to do away with variable pricing. Why don’t you guys check your power companies’ websites?

  23. FLConsumer says:

    I think he means that it’s the same rate regardless of time of day.

    Tampa Electric & FP&L offer time-of-day plans, but they’re totally ridiculous. Maybe if you were never home and didn’t have air conditioning, they might work, but for 99.999% of the people out there, their time of day plans are useless.

    For example:
    Summertime peak times:
    Noon to 9pm

    Wintertime:
    6am-10am, 6pm-10pm.

    There’s no way I’m going to go without AC until 9pm and have no heat from ~6a-10pm.

    With some rather exotic energy-efficient appliances & systems in my home, I’ve been able to cut my electric bill from 75 kWh/day down to 15 kWh/day. However, there’s no way in hell I’d be able to shift my loads to non-peak times in a substantially measurable way.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    I should mention that some power cos in FL (Progress Energy) charge more once you’ve gone over 1,000 kWh in a particular month. The Energy Detective meter can handle this and will show a different color light on the screen to indicate you’re running in the more expensive time.. I also find it rather dirty that Progress Energy tends to use 32-39 day “months” during the summertime, which leads to more time spent in the “peak” over 1,000 kwh billing period.

  25. swalve says:

    No kidding, flconsumer, maybe Consumerist could make themselves useful and figure out why companies can change the number of days in a month. 7 months with 30 days, 5 with 31. Done and easy.

  26. synergy says:

    With all the rain we’ve been having down here in Central Texas, it’s been abnormally cool (while the rest of you get to keep our summer temps heh!). So it made me angry to hear one of our summer interns who’s staying in her parents’ home for the summer tell me that despite the wonderful 72º overnight weather we’ve been having they still crank the AC. Central air is such a waste of energy! And people who leave their AC on all day while they’re at work… well. That’s even more of a huge waste of energy!

  27. Expand into Maryland and the sucker might be useful considering our rates just went up 75% and my power bill just went from $67 to $175… <_<

  28. @Papa Midnight: Did I mention our power company is a legal monopoly? (Kind of like Comcast but thats another story)