There are some months when the electricity bill is higher than you expected but you have no way of knowing what caused the spike in usage – that was before Belkin Echo Electricity, a new monitoring system that may be able to break down your bill by device.
The device itself connects to your utility meter and pays attention to the electromagnetic interference, or “noise,” emitted by electrical appliances plugged in to wall outlets around your home – making it easy to find the cause of your sky-high bill. It could also tell you if the device might be faulty and need to be repaired, or if it’s just a power-hungry appliance.
Currently being tested in a handful of U.S. homes, and the company also has plans to improve the efficiency of United States Department of Defense Military Bases starting in late 2013. Before long, this kind of technology could be available in your own home, either connected directly to your meter, or as a plugin device.
Echo Electricity builds on technology acquired in 2010 from an energy-monitoring startup called Zensi together with the doctoral work of University of Washington PhD candidate Sidhant Gupta, whose advisor, Shwetak Patel, was a Zensi founder.
Using WiFi uploads and machine learning algorithms, Gupta Gupta uses the data in his own home to produce a visualization on a demo app for his iPad. It breaks down information like what percentage of power is being used by his kitchen lighting, laptop and cable boxes.
While it’s still a few years from commercialization, Belkin plans to sell the device to utility providers and other service providers so that they can offer itemized bills to their customers.