Neptune RF water meter frequency hopping pattern

A couple of years ago, my water utility installed new remote-read water meters, Neptune e-Coder R900i, in every home in their service area.  As any casual reader of this blog knows, I’m a big fan of measuring and data when it comes to household resource consumption. I’ve got electricity pretty well covered, but water and gas are still lacking. I could install secondary meters with pulse counters, by that seems silly – I already have remote-read meters installed, it’s just that the data they send isn’t accessible to me. Let’s see if we can start to remedy that! Continue reading

How is the Taco SmartPlus recirc pump working in my house?

The Taco SmartPlus hot water recirculation pump is designed to push domestic hot water around a recirculation loop, so that hot water is at the taps when you want it, saving time as well as water down the drain while you wait.  It’s designed to learn your schedule, to avoid energy losses associated with pumps that run 24 hours a day, due to both the electrical energy used, and the lost heat in the loop when there is no hot water demand.

The SmartPlus pump is supposed to be “smart” in the sense that it uses a temperature sensor on the output of your water heater to learn when you use hot water, and adjust its run schedule accordingly.

So I had to find out, “is our smart pump learning?”  And so far, I have to say it’s not. (edit: I think power loss to the pump is the reason, read on) (edit 2: even solving that problem, I’m not happy with the results.  I’ve put it on manual mode and attached a timer.  I gave up on its claimed ability to learn our schedule.) Continue reading

Opower goes social

I wrote about Opower almost 2 years ago, a company which is working to reduce energy use by simply making people more aware of what they use in comparison with others.  At the time of that post, they seemed mostly focused on working directly with utilities, and sending out reports to customers showing them how their energy use compared to similar homes in their area.  The idea seems to be that if you are at all conservation & efficiency minded, seeing where you are in relation to others may actually encourage you to do even better.  They track the results, and apparently, it works.  However, that method works only if the utility is on board to provide the data. Continue reading

Using a wifi thermostat API

I love it when device manufacturers realize that they can do well by selling a device with documented interfaces, in the hopes that a nebulous community of hackers will invent cool new things for it. So I was pretty happy when the Radio Thermostat Company of America announced that they had an API available for their wifi thermostats (such as the 3M-50 at Home Depot or the CT-50 [amzn] at Amazon). Continue reading

Therms per Heating Degree Day

Click for interactive graph

In an earlier post I had tried out a few ways to figure out if our energy-saving efforts with respect to natural gas use were paying off; I did a few bar graphs of therms per day, per heating degree day, rolling yearly averages, etc.  I knew that I needed to normalize for the weather using Heating Degree Days, since natural gas is our primary heating fuel, and I probably needed to find a way to separate space heating from water heating, which have different conservation methods, and which may or may not be weather dependent. Continue reading