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Belkin Echo Electricity Allows for Itemized Utility Bills, Saves Power

Home Energy Efficiency, Take a Closer Look
Home Energy Efficiency, Take a Closer Look

Home energy efficiency can be a difficult thing to tackle, when there are so many ways that a home can be INefficient.

One way to improve could be to get a better understanding of where our energy goes. We already know that installing insulated windows or improving the insulation in our homes can improve our home energy efficiency by minimizing heat losses or managing solar loading, but what about perhaps hundreds of electrical loads in our home? How can we tell how much energy each one is using, and perhaps wasting, so that we can be more responsible in our energy usage?

We’re used to receiving itemized bills whenever we go shopping or at the end of the month in our mobile phone bill. This way, we can tell that perhaps we need to cut down on the number of text messages or streaming movies, to cut down on our bill. Could an itemized utility bill encourage better home energy efficiency by showing us where our energy is going?

Belkin is developing a plug-in gadget, called the Belkin Echo Electricity, that could determine where the energy in our home is going. The theory is that each electrical device, such as light bulbs, laptop chargers, home theater systems, blenders, refrigerators, and climate control systems, have their own electrical signature. The Belkin device attempts to detect and classify each signature, and then compares it to your electrical consumption.

The Belkin Echo Electricity device is currently testing in a few homes, and expects to install some 10,000 of the devices in a variety of residences. The other half of testing is coming up with the machine-learning algorithms to help it differentiate the electrical signatures of different devices in your home. Currently, Belkin says their device can account for about 90% of the energy use in the home, but still has a difficult time with complex electronics, such as differentiating between a cable modem and a home theater receiver.

The more we know about our energy consumption, the better we can manage it and reduce waste, increasing our home energy efficiency and reducing our utility costs. Ultimately, better home energy efficiency would lead to reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

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