Smart Plug Monitors Energy Use of Individual Appliances

Samuel M. Livingston/CC BY 2.0

Smart meter and energy management technologies are springing up everywhere, but most of them only give you the total picture of home energy consumption. The ability to tell which appliances and devices are consuming the most electricity would make cutting household energy use much easier. Two PhD students at the University of Sydney have developed a system that will make that possible and it's as easy as plugging something in.

The MyPower Energy Platform allows for continuous monitoring of major household appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, microwaves, electrical water heaters and refrigerators through a smart plug with an embedded GSM unit. If you've ever used a Kill A Watt, the concept is similar -- the device goes between the plug and wall outlet -- but instead of just displaying real-time electricity use readings, the smart plug feeds that information to the MyPower website so that users can track any connected appliances individually.

One of the developers of the technology, Waiho Wong, says: "The plugs sense actual power usage and transmit the information via SMS reports to a cloud-based data warehouse every 30 minutes. The householder can then access their electricity consumption data and drill down to individual appliances' cost based on peak, shoulder and off-peak rates, through the MyPower website."

Users can then see which appliances are hogging energy and make necessary changes to their behavior to cut consumption or upgrade to more efficient appliances if needed. The MyPower website allows users to remotely schedule appliance use to take advantage of off-peak rates and to turn appliances on and off via the smart plug. The developers say the technology can help users to slash home energy consumption by up to 10 percent.

Tags: Appliances | Energy Efficiency | Technology

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