When I lived in Japan, I was always feeling the pinch of electricity bills. It wasn't because of over-consumption. Things were just plain expensive. And luckily, the electricity meter was always near the front door, so I got in the habit of opening the door to check the spin rate on the meter. After looking at the meter, I'd walk around and unplug things that weren't in use. Here in the U.S., though, there's no easy access to the meter, especially in the traditional single-family home. Which is why something like the PowerCost Monitor could come in handy.
From Blue Line Innovations, the PowerCost Monitor is helping electricity customers use an average of 6.5% less electricity (typical savings of 5-20% electricity). It's a real time, direct-feedback device that tells you home much electricity you are using and how much that electricity is costing you.
There are two pieces: (1) a low-power infrared sensor unit that reads the meter (disk or digital) and transmits usage information to the display unit; and (2) the display unit (pictured right) that shows you the cost of energy, how much you've used, etc.
A large utility provider in Canada, Hydro One, purchased 30,000 units to pass on to its customers. 50 other utilities are lining up for the technology. At $150 for the entire setup about $110 for the entire setup, I think the device is a great idea for residential developers–anyone can install the sensor unit and the display unit will be helpful for new homeowners that are trying to keep the bills down. This is such a simple, yet effective solution to make consumption conspicuous.