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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the SmartMeter

Over the last 10 months or so, my family has saved over $500 on our electric bills (when compared to last year’s usage). We’ve done this by using our SmartMeter data! Interested?

I love my SmartMeter. (And no, I don’t work for PG&E!) Over the last 10 months or so, I calculate that my San Ramon family has saved over $500 on our electric bills (when compared to last year’s usage). We’ve done this by using our SmartMeter data to understand and change how we use energy in our home. Before my analysis, we were using about 150-200 Kilowatt-Hours (kWh) per month more than “Similar homes” (see first picture). Now we typically use less energy than the “Similars” do.

Background

For most Contra Costa residents, SmartMeters have been measuring our Electric Energy usage since July 2010. The meters record your usage every hour, every day. That’s 24 measurements a day or 720 per month or 8688 per year – That’s a lot of data! You can access your SmartMeter data on the PG&E webpage. The second picture is one month worth of “daily usage” plots that I made from our data downloaded from PG&E. For more information on SmartMeters see www.pge.com/smartmeter

Saving $500 - How we did it

The basic charting tools on www.pge.com are pretty useful to get a general idea of your usage, but I felt we needed more – much more! As a physicist (and computer-geek), I love data and data analysis, so I wrote a set of software tools to closely analyze and understand where and when we were using our electricity. Once we understood the “where’s” and “when’s,” it was a simple and painless process to focus in on the “easy” changes which resulted in most of the savings.  The pie chart picture is just one of the tools that shows when we typically use energy. 

How you can do it

The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is go to www.pge.com/myhome/myaccount/ and create an account to access your SmartMeter and Billing data. Next you can explore the tools PG&E provides on the “My Usage” page and see if that helps. If you want help or want to find out how to further reduce your energy bills, I can help. I’ve launched Dr. Strangewatt, an energy consulting service that shows you how you can save. Check out www.facebook.com/DrStrangeWatt or email me at DrStrangeWatt@gmail.com for more information.

Stay tuned 

I have a passion for energy conservation and sustainability through reduced usage. In future blog entries I’ll give more examples and simple things you can do to reduce your energy consumption as well as fun and interesting (I hope!) facts about energy and conservation. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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