Our buddy TED

So now that the HRV air handler and geothermal heating system are online and doing what they do, we decided to invite a special friend to watch over them for us. He’s called TED, AKA The Energy Detective, and he’s helping us with monitor our daily, monthly and yearly electricity usage.

Here’s TED in his box…

…and here he is doing his job.

The unit uses a connection in the main breaker box of the house to relay information every second on the total amount of KW being used at any one time. Type in your utility cost per KW, and it gives you your current hourly rate.

So here the house electricity is costing me 5¢ per hour (since it’s just the HRV and a CFL or two running), but use the bathroom sink and some hot water for a little bit and it jumps to $1.50-2.00 per hour! I guess that 100amp circuit for the on-demand hot water heater is working!

This nice thing about the unit is that it will remember 13 months of data (which you may be able to pull out of it at some point with the USB connection it offers), and gives you the ability to really track your usage over time. Once you see where that energy is going, you can adjust your behavior and hopefully lower your monthly expenses.

The unit was around $155 shipped, but I felt it was justified since it gives us the ability to monitor everything in our all-electric house, at any time.


Cow Power™

One of the many “green” advantages to living in Vermont is that a large percentage of the electricity supplied to us comes from renewable sources, a major factor in creating a fossil fuel free house.

Here’s the breakdown from our supplier, Central Vermont Public Service.

Hydro is definitely nice to have, but I know that Nuclear has a much larger stigma attached to it, even though it’s a heck of a lot cleaner than coal. The one that interested us the most however is that tiny 0.1% from CVPS Cow Power™.

It may sound silly but Cow Power is actually a great little program, and is a excellent way to support local dairy farms in this region. Basically a farm becomes an electricity supplier to the grid, using the manure that their cows produce daily – a by-product that would usually be stored as “lagoons” on nearby land. By collecting the manure and processing it, they’re making energy, reducing odor, improving water quality and providing an extra revenue for themselves – something that many to need survive as farmers.

Even though it’s similar to wind power offsets that some utility companies offer, the major benefit in our eyes is that our extra 4 cents a month actually goes towards something more tangible and “real”, and somewhere we can visit in our state!

Here’s a nice little diagram to explain it all. Click to embiggen.