In 2013, Arizona earned a new nickname -“the solar state”- by participating in heated debates regarding net metering and the growing solar electric industry. As expected, the utility companies put up a fight, which resulted in a minor victory allowing them to charge a small fee on new residential solar electric installations.
But the power companies cannot hold out forever, as solar power and other alternative sources of energy continue to gain popularity with consumers. Unfortunately there is still a long road ahead for everyone involved in solar power initiatives. Currently, Arizona Public Service Co. and others offer only a few renewable energy initiatives. To push the state from 2nd to 1st place in solar and renewable energy usage, utility companies should offer users the option to choose which percentage of their electricity is channeled from solar or wind energy, as opposed to other, nonrenewable sources. Many North American companies already do, and if consumers can find them — often through comparison websites — everybody wins.
Arizona has the sun to thank for its “solar state” title, but even if it’s a sunny day there’s still plenty you can do at home to pitch in, too. Take the first step and reevaluate the power usage within your own home. There are many new devices on the market that allow homeowners to track and discover just how much power is drawn from their electrical outlets, and adjust it accordingly. Not only will you discover which devices are “energy hogs”, and save money in the process, but you’ll reduce your home’s overall carbon emissions as well. Monitoring your home’s energy needs allows you to be a smarter, more environmentally friendly, consumer. Read on to learn more about the devices that can help you track your power consumption safely and easily:
TED Energy Detective: TED Energy Detective is one of the most highly comprehensive, and easily installable, energy monitoring systems. The product features a real-time display detailing exactly how many watts your home is using, with information on the hourly cost and continuous feedback on your energy use patterns. There are many versions and models of the TED home system, some of which come with their own wireless display, and others that are tracked using your mobile device or computer.
Google Nest Thermostat (Second Generation): There are smart thermostats, and then there are thermostats like the Nest. The Nest is more than programmable, it’s intuitive, which means that it will learn your schedule and program itself. An ordinary smart thermostat might remember to lower temperature control while residents are at work or school, but the Nest will go one step further and focus temperature control on the most used rooms, automatically adjust for sleeping temperatures. The device can even sense while you’re away on its own, due to the addition of a motion detector.
Eco-Friendly, Smart Appliances: For a while, energy efficient appliances were expensive and few and far between. Now, however, LG is one company that boasts an entire line of smart appliances. Examples include a smart refrigerator (the Smart ThinQ), an ultra-fast, eco-friendly washing machine, and a washing machine with Wi-Fi Smart Diagnosis (the Smart ThinQ Washer, which would reserve energy-intense cycles for off-peak hours, for example). LG isn’t the other company investing in the eco-trend, either. Energy Star certified appliances are available through almost every major preferred company or brand.
Power Adaptors and Smart Power Strips: Perhaps the most well-known and easiest tools to apply are power adapters, like those created by the company Green Plug, which limit the amount of energy over-charging consumer devices. If Green Plug’s adapters are in use, the supply of energy will be cut off after the device has received all the energy it needs to charge and operate. Likewise, smart power strips will limit any “vampire” charges sucked from appliances left plugged in.
iTech SolarCharger 906: Solar panels and solar technology at home is already popular in Arizona – but what about on the go? The iTech SolarCharger is just one option that allows electronics to be charged with the power of the sun. The iTech SolarCharger does take about 22 hours to power up (perhaps leave it on the deck on weekend day, but once it does it can easily charger phones and other electronics. The tool even comes with various adaptors, so homeowners don’t have to give up their solar preferences on the go.
While we wait for solar energy to be a cheaper, more feasible option on a large scale basis, there are many ways to cut down on electricity costs are home. A good energy monitoring system will make you aware of the need to conserve our energy resources. The accurate digital displays of the products listed above (and others) will give you new insight into how much electricity you consume, and where you can cut back each month.