(C) Daniel Friedman Building Energy Use Monitoring & Passive Solar Performance - House Monitoring

  • ENERGY USE MONITORING - CONTENTS: Suggestions for monitoring home energy use rate, level, and timing. How to monitor passive solar performance for buildings. Passive solar monitoring equipment. Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to monitor building energy use

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This article discusses ways to monitor the energy flows in a passive solar home, and suggestions for building energy use monitoring, electricity usage, heating and cooling fuel usage, and other sources of energy consumption.

Monitoring building energy use allows building owners/occupants to focus on where the most energy cost savings may be found.

Monitoring building energy use also allows evaluation of the effectiveness of individual energy savings steps or alternative energy sources such as passive solar energy systems, active solar energy systems, or wind power energy systems.

Sketch at page top and accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.

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Tracking Building Energy Usage: Passive Solar Energy Monitors

Passive Solar Home Energy Flow Monitoring Suggestions

Solar electrical power array, San Miguel de Allende (C) Daniel Friedman


I would like to know where I can obtain information regarding the monitoring of a passive solar residence, including equations, type and location of passive solar energy monitors, or energy use monitors, and analysis of passive solar energy data.

A lot of information appears about predicting solar energy performance, but I can't seem to locate solar energy flow monitoring descriptions. -- George Buffaloe, Broomfield CO


There are many ways to monitor the energy flows in a building, ranging from a utility bill audit at one end of the spectrum to a fully instrumented analysis at the other.

Which route you should choose depends on your need for accuracy and your budget. To do sophisticated solar energy performance and building energy use monitoring requires experience with instrumentation and a large investment in money and time.

If you wish to go this route, try contacting the engineering department of your local university for assistance. If you are unable to beg or borrow the energy monitoring equipment, low-cost ($1400 - $2000) monitoring hardware has been available since the fall of 1984. [September 1984 - solar energy instrumentation choices and costs have dropped by 2010 - DF].

For information contact Richard Sydlowski, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Information on low-tech energy auditing should be available from your local utility. A good summary of the technical issues in monitoring including general equations appeared in "How to Get the Facts", Solar Age, 7/82.

Passive solar home design sketch (C) S Bliss D Friedman

Current & Developing Energy Monitoring Devices for Homes

For an up-to-date discussion of home energy use monitoring, see "Energy Scoreboards, Designed for the Home", by Anne Eisenberg and appearing in the New York Times, 2/28/2010. That article describes Intel's prototype wall-mounted energy monitor designed to collect energy usage data from a building's appliances and potentially (and in our view more importantly) the building's heating and cooling mechanical systems.

Intel's Energy Monitor

In the article's description, the Intel energy monitor collects appliance data usage by wireless communication with sensor units through which each building appliance is plugged into a wall electrical outlet. We hope that the final design will include a similar energy monitoring application for the big energy consumers such as heating and air conditioning equipment. For example, installing similar circuitry in an individual circuit breaker could track electrical use of an air conditioning system or heat pump.

Tenrehte Technology's Picowatt Energy Monitor

The article also discusses the Picowatt, a device that communicates with smart phones or laptop computers to permit controlling building lighting or appliances. As we speculated above, the Picowatt communicates wirelessly to a control device through which individual appliances are connected to an electrical receptacle. Device usage data can be collected and posted on individual web pages for further analysis.

G.E. Technology Energy Monitoring

The Times article cited Kevin Nolan, GE Vice President of technology in Louisville as describing a "low cost communication module that will hook into the heater and communicate with whatever smart meter you have in your home."

Sam Six Energy Monitoring

The Times article also cited Steve McMaster, CEO of Sam Six, a developer of software for utility companies intended to make electricity transmission more efficient by permitting a homeowner's energy monitoring system to communicate with utility companies.

The question-and-answer article about building energy usage monitoring equipment and methods, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Also see HEATING COST APPORTIONMENT Issues where we discuss BTU usage monitoring in buildings.

Original article

The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article.

The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Continue reading at ELECTRICAL POWER ANALYZERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


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