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April 10th, 2012

Celebrate Earth Day by monitoring your home’s energy use



iStock_house of moneyFor homeowners, Earth Day 2012 should be about more than simply making sure you’re taking out the recycling. You can really make an impact this April 22 by paying closer attention to your home’s energy consumption.

“Most people don’t actually realize how much impact their actions will have on their energy bills,” says Tom Simchak, a senior research associate at the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency.

These days, there are several tools and resources at your disposal–even a country-wide initiative–that can assist you in monitoring your home’s energy use.

Green Button

The Green Button initiative is a national effort–supported by the White House– to “provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy usage data in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format via a ‘Green Button’ on electric utilities’ website.”

The idea is that with more information on how much electricity they use and when they’re using it, homeowners will be more likely to alter their usage habits in order to save energy and money.

Since its launch in January, only two energy providers–Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric–have implemented the Green Button on their websites, providing the Green Button capability to almost 12 million households.

According to GreenButtonData.org, “nine major utilities and electricity suppliers signed on to the initiative, committing to provide more than 15 million households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online Green Button. In total, these commitments ensure that 27 million households will be able to access their own energy information, and this number will continue to grow as utilities nation-wide voluntarily make energy data more available in this common, machine-readable format.”

Energy monitoring devices you can buy

Since participation in the Green Button initiative is so limited at this time, homeowners not on the West Coast will need to find other tools and resources to monitor their home’s energy usage.

Websites like MyEnergy.com provide energy tips as well as detailing your energy usage (after you provide access to your utility companies). In addition to online resources, there are several products on the market that can monitor how much energy a specific item in your home is using.

The costs of these devices vary, ranging from the $20 “P3 International “Kill A Watt” Electricity Usage Monitor,” to the $120 “e2 classic 2.0″ made by efergy, to the nearly $500 “TED 5004-C.”

Andrew Crestodina of Chicago used the Kill A Watt monitor to find out how much electricity certain items in his home were using. He discovered that a power strip for his entertainment center was using a lot of “vampire energy” when the devices were turned off. Crestodina then turned off the power strip when he left for a trip to help save some energy and money.

Whether you go online or purchase a device to monitor your home’s energy consumption, knowing how much power you use and being able to cut back on your usage is something every homeowner should consider this Earth Day. Saving money is something all homeowners are interested in, and monitoring your home’s energy is one way to do it this Earth Day.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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