Talking Google PowerMeter on AM 950 and The Uptake

I had a little chat about my latest obsession, the Google PowerMeter service, on Quick On The UpTake with Mike McIntee this afternoon. Good times were had. The theme of the hour was energy conservation starting with my segment at 15 minutes into the segment embedded above (that a live studio shot of Mike doing the show. I called in.)

If you’re into the local healthcare scene, you may find the entire video valuable.

I warmed things up for Molly Priesmeyer from LiveGreenTwinCities who shares her home energy audit experiences after my segment while Mike drops knowledge based on his own energy audit experience. That is some great information, especially for us inner city folks who’s homes may have developed a few leads over the years. Or, as Reuben recently discovered, are being insulated by squirrel carcasses.

Privacy Concerns

One thing that came out during this segment that’s worth explaining: The powermeter I installed from The Energy Detective can be used without sharing data with Google. In fact, the service’s primary value, today, has nothing to do with Google. T.E.D.’s basic energy monitoring software shows you your energy consumption from your circuit breaker box to your web browser directly and shares that data with no one. It’s up to you to decide whether you’d also like to share you home’s energy data with Google. The data provided on T.E.D.’s interface is more valuable than Google’s representation of the same data since it’s real-time, so you can immediately see the impact of turning a light or appliance on/off. Over time, Google may be able to provide equally interesting data in the form of local benchmarks, but they’re no there today.

If you have any hesitation about using this service based on privacy concerns, don’t opt-in to the Google PowerMeter service after installing the software. You’ll get all the benefits with none of the privacy concerns related to pushing your home’s energy consumption stats to Google.

As of now, they’re still back-ordered (the model I have is the TED 5000), but it looks like Amazon may carry it once they’ve caught up with demand.

You Can Lease Solar Panels in Minnesota

Maria Energia has a look at a local company, freEner-g , that’s leases solar power panels.

As I understand it, you end up paying a fixed monthly cost for the panels and depending on your power consumption and solar exposure, may be able to drop your electricity bill to zero. In fact, I think it can go negative if you’re contributing more energy to the grid than you consume.

Adjusting Your Hot Water Temperature

Ranty has some great energy saving tips on her Healy House blog, including one regarding home’s hot water temperature:

The Healy House: It’s that time of year again…

8. Stay out of hot water. Water heating accounts for 15 percent of household energy use. Reduce water heating costs by lowering the water heater’s thermostat setting. Each 10ºF reduction can save between 3-5 percent in energy costs. Also insulate the hot water heater and hot water pipes.

Good point. Adjusting it is really quite easy, saves money, and makes your hot tap water more usable.

Food ThermometerPick up a food thermometer (I use the one on the right) and stick it under a running stream of hot water from your tap.

You definitely don’t want it scaldingly hot, which is ~150F. The government suggests that 120F is a temperature that is hot enough to clean clothes and dishes without scalding skin. Natural Handyman explains that you may need to consider 140F if your dishwasher doesn’t include a heater.

To adjust the heat, make slight turns to the dial near the bottom of the hot water heater, wait a few hours, then re-test.