Friday, December 18, 2009

Flying Blind: Our Friend TED Takes a Holiday

Sarah didn’t like TED when he first came to live with us. I think she found him to be a bit of a nag. However, yesterday TED left for an extended vacation at a friend’s home and Sarah, only hours after his departure, stated, “I miss TED”. I do too.

TED is our indoor electric meter. We keep him on the stove in the kitchen when he is in residence. This is a good location; one where he can frequently remind us about our energy use. If we turn on a light or a computer or take a shower TED immediately starts counting the kilowatt-hours. He is pretty sensitive (10-watts or more). TED tells us how much power we lose to phantom loads each day. He knows how much energy it takes to run an on-demand electric hot water heater (1 shower = 1 kWh). As the day moves along TED keeps adding up the kW and keeps track of our running monthly total as well.

TED is an example of what all houses should be equipped with. Traditionally electric meters are on the outside of a home. Electric meters on the outside of a home are somewhat akin to having a gas gauge in your car’s trunk. If you can’t read the gauge while driving then you can’t hope to efficiently operate the vehicle – you’d have to keep stopping and getting out to check the fuel level!

An electric meter on the inside of the home should be standard equipment. Managing use is dependent on understanding demand. TED helps us understand our day-to-day and month-to-month energy use. He helps us to be better consumers. That’s why we miss TED. For us, it is important to see a real-time record of our consumption – it helps us exercise better use of electricity at home. The feedback from TED when you turn off a light or turn on an appliance is immediate and quantitative. Without this kind of reinforcement we are simply acting on intuition – driving a car without a fuel gauge?

More about TED is at
We use the 1001 model, but there are now several enhances versions available.