Dashboards in the home can lower energy consumption. The growing availability of “energy dashboards” for home owners to use for monitoring their energy consumption is helping to reduce electrical loads.

Here’s a look at one such unit:

Home Energy Dashboard

It’s from this post:

Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here’s an excerpt:

In recent years, the technology of our cars has advanced at a more rapid rate than the technology of our homes. A new car’s dashboard has gauges that display all kinds of information, including the amount of fuel in the car’s tank, the oil pressure, the electrical system voltage, and sometimes the tire pressure. Many new cars even have a real-time fuel-efficiency gauge that displays miles per gallon.

If you’re interested in comparable information about your home, you’ll probably have to go down to the basement and look at the float gauge on the top of your fuel oil tank. Then you can go outside and read the gauge at the top of your propane tank. Next, stick the prongs of a multimeter into an outlet to verify your electrical system voltage. And if you want electrical use data, you can wait until you get your utility bill at the end of the month.

It will probably be many decades before most homes have such car-like features as electrically operated windows or dashboards that indicate whether the doors are latched. But technology-savvy homeowners can already install a real-time whole-house electricity meter with a display for the kitchen or living room wall. Often referred to as “energy dashboards,” such monitors are available for less than $200.

You can even buy a more sophisticated dashboard that displays electricity, natural gas, and water use — although the cost of the required monitoring equipment rises steeply with these added features, into the thousands of dollars.

Documented energy savings

Studies have repeatedly shown that homeowners do a better job of conserving energy if they get real-time energy-use feedback. If you can see how many kilowatts your house is consuming, you’re more likely to check whether you accidently left the basement lights on.

In a March 2006 paper, “The Impact of Real-Time Feedback on Residential Electricity Consumption,” researcher Dean Mountain, a professor of economics at the McMaster Institute for Energy Studies in Hamilton, Ontario, reported data from an energy-dashboard study conducted by a Canadian utility, Hydro One. On average, the 400 Ontario households that received a PowerCost whole-house electricity monitor reduced their electricity usage by 6.5%. Mountain noted, “An important observation from the study is that the behavioral response remained persistent and did not decrease over time during the study period.”

In an April 2006 paper, “The Effectiveness of Feedback on Energy Consumption,” researcher Sarah Darby reviewed published studies of savings attributable to electricity and natural-gas dashboards. “The literature reviewed here mostly consists of primary sources, with a few review papers. The focus is on feedback on gas and electricity consumption,” she wrote. “The norm is for savings from direct feedback (immediate, from the meter or an associated display monitor) to range from 5%-15%.”

An article titled “Evaluating Energy Use Feedback Devices,” published in the July/August 2008 issue of Home Energy magazine, reports the results of a Florida study of electricity-use monitors. Three researchers from the Florida Solar Energy Center —Danny Parker, David Hoak, and Jamie Cummings — measured electricity savings in houses equipped with an electricity monitor called The Energy Detective.

After correcting the data for reductions in energy use that were weather-related, the researchers concluded that the homes with energy monitors had average electricity savings of 7.4%.