What’s wasting power at home? Ask this system

save electricity

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a system that can tell you exactly how much power is being used by appliances, lighting fixtures and other devices in your home.

The new MIT system involves no complex installation. No wires need to be disconnected and the placement of the postage-stamp-sized sensors over the incoming power line does not require any particular precision.

Because it samples data very quickly, the sensors can pick up enough detailed information about spikes and patterns in the voltage and current — thanks to a dedicated software.

It can tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor and other device in the home and show exactly which ones go on and off, at what times.

“For a long time, the premise has been that if we could get access to better information [about energy use], we would be able to create some significant savings,” said Professor of Electrical Engineering Steven Leeb in a paper described in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

Most significantly, the system is designed so that all of the detailed information stays right inside the user’s own home, eliminating concerns about privacy that potential users may have when considering power-monitoring systems.

Once the system is developed into a commercial product, Leeb says, it should cost only about $25 to $30 per home.