The energy company that I buy my electricity and gas from (E.ON) is currently running an “EnergyFit” promotion where they will send you an energy monitor for free. A free gadget sounded like a good idea (I have a monitor but it’s the plugin type – this monitors the whole house) so I applied for one to help me reduce our family’s spiraling energy costs (and, ahem, to help us reduce our environmental footprint).
The EnergyFit package appeared on my doorstep sometime over the weekend and setup was remarkably easy – there’s a transmission unit that loops around the main electricity supply cable (without any need for an electrician) and a DC-powered monitor that connects to this using a wireless technology called C2, which works on the 433MHz spectrum (not the 2.4GHz that DECT phones, some Wi-Fi networks, baby monitors, etc. use). Within a few minutes of following E.ON’s instructions, I had the monitor set up and recording our electricity usage.
The monitor is supplied with E.ON’s software to help track electricity usage over time and it seems to work well – as long as you download the data from the monitor (using the supplied USB cable) every 30 days (that’s the limit of the monitor’s internal memory).
I wondered if I could get this working with Google PowerMeter too (Microsoft Hohm is not currently available in the UK) and, sure enough, I did. This is what I had to do:
- Head over to the Google PowerMeter website.
- Click the link to Get Google PowerMeter.
- At this point you can either sign up with a utility company, or select a device. The E.ON-supplied device that I have is actually from a company called Current Cost so I selected them from the device list and clicked through to their website.
- Once on the Current Cost website, click the button to check that your device will work with Google PowerMeter.
- The E.ON EnergyFit monitor is an Envi device – click the Activate button.
- Complete the registration form in order to download the software required to connect the monitor to Google.
- Install the software, with includes a registration process with Google for an authorisation key that is used for device connection.
- After 10 minutes of data upload, you should start to see your energy usage appear on the Google PowerMeter website.
Of course, these instructions work today but either the Google or Current Cost websites are subject to change – I can’t help out if they do but you should find the information you need here.
There are some gotchas to be aware of:
- The monitor doesn’t keep time very well (mine has drifted about 3 minutes a day!).
- Configuring the monitor (and downloading data to the E.ON software) requires some arcane keypress combinations.
- According to the release notes supplied with the Current Cost software, it only caches data for 2 hours so, if your PC is switched off (perhaps to save energy!), Google fills in the gaps (whereas the E.ON Energy Fit software can download up to 30 days of information stored in the monitor).
- You can’t run both the E.ON EnergyFit and the Current Cost Google PowerMeter applications at the same time – only one can be connected to the monitor.
If your energy company doesn’t supply power monitors, then there are a variety of options for purchase on the Google PowerMeter website.