Top Personal Finance Blogs
Thursday December 18th 2014

Should You Switch to Solar Power?

Switching over to solar power for your home is very tempting to consider for your family’s energy needs. It’s tempting because many people say they can save a lot of money by switching over to a solar power system for their homes. However, switching completely over to solar power won’t always be a worthwhile investment.

It can also pose several problems if you don’t know what you’re doing. As a result, it’s important to do some research in advance to see if switching over to solar power is the right option for your family. Here are some reminders and resources that readers can use to help them do this research.
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7 Options for Monitoring Home Energy Use

If you are looking for a way to stay within your budget and conserve energy at the same time, several companies now provide a wide range of tools that will help you to monitor, calculate, and effectively manage the energy you consume. Some require a fairly significant initial investment, but over time, you should be able to make up for the cost with the amount you save on your monthly utility bill.

Not surprisingly, all of these tools do not work the same way. Certain gadgets will allow you to control your air conditioning, and possibly other electronics, through your computer or mobile phone. These manufacturers are aware that utility companies’ rates are higher in the afternoon than they are night, and they are developing advanced software and devices that can effectively manage your energy use and the cost that comes with it. Some tools can supply periodic energy data and even predict your energy consumption in different circumstances.

Here are some products that might suit your needs:

● The home energy-management system from American Grid is a kit with a dashboard for displaying energy data, a gateway to the Web, and related devices that will control your major appliances’ use of energy and the temperature in every room. Consumers can use text messaging for controlling the power of those appliances, and the system sends data about their energy use and the related cost to a server that American Grid manages, (A subscription to the service is also required.) The company estimates that a household now paying more than $250 for their monthly energy expenses could potentially realize a savings of 20% on their bill.

● The Energy Detective (TED) from Energy Inc. shows both electricity pricing and the owner’s energy consumption on the Internet throughout the day. Various packages are available to suit the individual consumer’s needs, and TED can monitor energy use from the consumer’s electrical panels, and the energy produced by solar panels, where that applies.

Some of the company’s higher-priced products are compatible with PowerMeter, a web-based tool from Google that will use the data supplied by your TED devices to analyze your use of energy, assist you in estimating your yearly electric bill, and help you to establish some cost-savings goals. Aside from that, Energy Inc. can also provide its own software and a wireless display device for monitoring your use of energy.

● Current Cost markets simple gadgets that you can attach to your meter for displaying basic data related to your general energy use. One package includes the PowerMeter mentioned above, and this will provide more detailed information regarding your energy use and ways for setting your goals for saving energy.

● With the eMonitor from Powerhouse Dynamics, customers can monitor their use of energy at what is called the “circuit level.” They can zero in on energy-use patterns throughout the home and adjust the power used in the heating and cooling systems, along with certain appliances. They can also receive alerts when their use of energy exceeds the norms and calculate their “carbon footprint” as well.

● DreamWatts, which is sold by PowerMand, is a setup that is similar to what American Grid has to offer. The customer purchases an Internet gateway, which collects information wirelessly from thermostats and similar devices to measures the energy electrical circuits consume. To receive the data and the analysis, they must also subscribe to the company’s service.

● For consumers who only require remote control of their thermostat and lighting, Alarm.com offers some less expensive solutions. The company sells its security software and sensors through retailers, who can provide an energy-monitoring system at little or no cost. This enables consumers to program their air conditioning, lights, and heating system to operate at various times, and it can be done via their Smartphone or computer.

● The PowerCostMonitor from Blue Line Innovations is energy-monitoring equipment that customers attach to their meter for real-time information regarding their energy consumption. The device, which transmits the data wirelessly to a display that is as large as digital clock, is available at several retail outlets.