Even the most impressive homes today can’t claim to have all the greatest technology currently available if they don’t have an energy management system. You have, of course, the home theater, the networked PC’s tied in to security and X10?. If your service panel lacks a submeter, you are missing out on a serious discussion topic that actually has conservation merits as well. The cost is a “drop in the bucket”, especially in new construction. In home-test installations of the first twenty microMeter? prototypes, much was learned.

In actual KWH consumption (not demand), dryers don’t use more than washers. Be sure to fill it with 2 or three washer loads.

Lower water heater settings make a big enough difference to go to the trouble. If you have to mix in cold water for showers, you’re losing energy in the storage tank and piping. The savings are significant in about 25-30% of your total bill.

Conservative thermostat settings make a big difference. We knew that already but did you know they often amount to half of your total bill? If you buy a simple heating pad at a drugstore and sit on it, you can almost do without heating altogether.

A buried wire with deteriorated insulation can use a hundred watts day in and day out and add five dollars to your monthly bill. This is also a very dangerous situation.

A pool pump can waste power and wear itself out if the timer fails to shut it off and you never hear it running where it is located. This is also true for a well if there is a frozen or leaking pipe somewhere.

Refrigerators can contribute about 25% to a household bill. They also do funny things at night when you look at their graphs. You see when they defrost and make ice cubes. You can also tell when someone has opened the door.

Have you seen these devices on the market that save power while running a motor? Try that again with a LOADED motor and use your microMETER to get the facts.

Fluorescent fixture savings can only be fully realized when they are outside or in a space that is being chilled. The same applies to water heater insulation jackets.

For those interested in holiday displays, fun thing to do with a submeter is to set up some X10? controls with the controller by your PC. As you turn things off and on, you can see the results in the submeter display. How can you really impress anyone without hard data to compare to other displays?

Use a master switch/outlet strip (or X10?) to shut down clusters of electronic gear (surround sound theaters, pc workstations, etc.). The aggregate standby consumption can exceed fifty watts for big set-ups. Also it reduces exposure in the event of storms or power outages.

Christopher Clement is a former utility executive who received a government grant to develop his idea for energy conservation. Preventing energy waste is equivalent to energy production along the lines of Franklin’s maxim “A penny saved is a penny earned.” If done on a large enough scale, the effort is equivalent to all other renewable energy sources and is, by far, the cheapest. The result is a mature product that is fully described at www.micrometer.com .