I’ve had my power monitor for a couple of months now and to be honest it hasn’t made a significant difference to my electricity usage. It has made me a little more conscious of lights being left on and mobile phone chargers being left plugged in, but I don’t believe that accounts for a huge amount of energy. Indeed I’m still averaging 7.2kWh/day during the week and 8.4kWh/day at the weekends.

Maybe now that we’re in autumn, with nights getting dark earlier and the heating running a little you might have expected my usage to have gone up a little, and so the fact that it hasn’t significantly is interesting? Hard to say when I’ve got no historical data to compare against.

One thing I do know is that my electricity consumption never drops below 85W. That’s all the devices that have to be on, or are typically left on standby. That’s not a huge amount, but it would be nice to reduce it if possible. Enter E-on again. They supplied my energy monitor for free, and now have an offer on this TV power down device – £3 instead of £18. This device simply notices when you switch the TV to standby and powers off any other devices that aren’t needed.

It has three power sockets: one for the TV, one for devices that should be left powered always (a PVR, for example) and one for devices that can be switched off with the TV. I have a multi-way adapter connected to that last socket, into which is plugged a Blu-Ray player, VCR, Wii and a WiFi/ethernet bridge (for TV and BR player). Now, when the TV is switched to standby, after a short while the TV and those other devices are powered off. The TV power down device has an infrared sensor that notices when you use the power button on your TV remote and returns power to everything. Simples…

How well does it work? Technically, it seems to do what it is supposed to, although it does sometimes take a little while to notice that the TV has gone off. Sometimes half an hour or longer. It does say in the instructions that this can happen, and it depends on the TV. I assume it is sensing the power consumption of the TV, through the TV socket, and only powering off when that drops below a certain value, and some TVs take a while to power down completely? It certainly powers back on quickly enough. The TV comes up in standby mode, so you end up have to press the power button twice. Hardly a major inconvenience.

In terms of power saving, my power consumption is about 15W lower once everything has powered off. Not a huge saving, but with the device costing just £3 it should still pay for itself in just a few months. At the list price of £18 and a payback period of over a year I’m not sure I’d have bothered, so well done to E-on for subsidising the cost of these things. Another small step towards reducing the carbon footprint of the Rumsby family.

Or is it…? (blog to come)

A little over a week ago I installed a power monitor at home. I got it free from my power company, but it appears to be a re-badged version of the EnviR from Current Cost. As well as giving an instantaneous display of power consumption it collects the data and allows you to download it to Excel, where I’ve been having a little bit of fun with pivot tables! Here are just a few observations after having it installed for a little over a week.

Not surprisingly, we use less electricity on weekdays than weekends, since we’re out more. The difference isn’t huge, though – 7.2kWh compared to 8.4kWh. No doubt this is because of my second observation – we use more power in the evenings than during the day. TV, laptops, lights, etc. are all used more in the evenings, whether weekday or weekend.

The lowest level of power consumption I’ve seen is 84W, which I assume is the accumulated power consumption of all the things that are on permanently – router, alarm, central heating timer, etc. – and all the things that are on standby – TV, PVR, Wii, etc. 84W is higher than I expected, but others have said their figure is much higher so maybe I’m doing quite well?

Monitoring consumption isn’t the point, though. The trick now is going to be to figure out how to use this device to encourage me to use less electricity. All suggestions welcome! I’ll report back in a few months…