Friday, 20 February 2015

Energy monitoring with OWL micro+

Are you dreading this winter heating bills? We live in a 250+ years old house, and while it might be pretty, it gets very cold in winter. Anything helpful to cut down on the bills is welcome.
Last year Zenith Home, home efficiency specialists, launched an online educational hub with easy-to-follow advice on the energy saving techniques, tips and products which help the consumers to understand how to take control of the energy consumption. They also sent me an energy saving kit including an energy monitoring device OWL micro+.

It comes in a sturdy box and consists of two units - Transmitter and Display (plus the batteries).
As soon as I opened the instructions, I sighed. It might be easy for techie people but for me it might as well have been written in a foreign language altogether. I had to read the manual twice at least.

Actually setting it up was not that bad, you insert the batteries, place the units into a pairing mode, set the time and cost and energy displays. So far so good.
Connecting the sensor over the insulated live cable was quite tricky. Our cables coming from the meter are very close to each other, and fitting the sensor over was not so easy. As the meter is situated in a small cupboard in the hall, fitting the sensor further away along the live cable is impossible, it is all covered apart from those bits which are visible in the cupboard.

But it has to be clamped around the live wire so as to "read" the information on usage through the plastic insulation.
Once the fitting's done, it starts working and displays the amount of electricity in use since the time of the setup.

This little gadget is good for raising awareness of your energy consumption, In the first week, I kept checking it to see what "eats" the most electricity and figure out the ways to decrease it.
I discovered that a hand blender, for example, costs about 1p per quick job, boiling a kettle is about 15p, making a toast is about 1p...

Though it helps you understand what consumes the most energy in your house, I have already had a good sense of what the main culprits could be. I knew the washing machine eats lots of energy, but there is not much I can do about it. I already use it on lower-temperature setting, but I cannot use it less often than I do. The same goes for the heating, it is very pricey but unavoidable in our circumstances unless we want to live in a cold mausoleum.

Some devices don't register separately, so the gadget is not 100% responsive or accurate, for example, if I have two or one bulbs on in the room, the reading seems to be exactly the same. It is also tricky sometimes to figure out how much each gadget is costing, if like in my kitchen the kettle is just next to the heater unit, and if both are on, then, the price shows for both gadgets.

Overall, it raises awareness of the energy consumption and gives a pretty good insight into how much power you use on a daily basis.

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