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New Online Portal Helps Energy Obsessives Drill Down On Electricity Usage

Pratt, Liz

A few months ago, when they became available, I signed up to get an advanced meter installed on my house. It was one of the energy-efficiency programs Louisville Gas and Electric was offering, and I was intrigued by its promise of letting me more closely track my energy usage through an online dashboard.

As I’ve previously reported, my house isn’t the most energy-efficient.

The meter was installed last week, and now I’ve got a week’s worth of energy usage to study. LG&E spokeswoman Liz Pratt walked me through the online portal, which lets you drill down — to the 15-minute interval — on electricity usage.

“This is a voluntary service, so it’s available to residential and small commercial customers, and it gives customers more detailed information that they can have to better understand how they may be using electricity in their home or business,” Pratt said. “So it’s a really great tool to take a closer look at how you’re using energy.”

Here's what mine looked like on Wednesday:

Some of the real benefit comes with the long-term data, looking at how your energy usage compares over months or even years as upgrades are made.

I’ve only got a week of data, but already there are some interesting lessons.

For one, it’s incredibly obvious when I run my dishwasher or washing machine. Both are Energy Star models, but Tuesday night, while both were running simultaneously, my household’s energy usage nearly tripled.

What’s more disturbing is the amount of energy my house uses during a weekday, when it’s unoccupied. The meter only measures the electricity usage, so my gas furnace isn’t included (though when it gets warmer, the AC usage will show up). Each hour during the day, my house uses an average of 0.3 kilowatt hours. That’s for functions like running the refrigerator and the phantom power electronic devices use when they’re plugged in and turned off.

So far, Pratt said about 2,700 LG&E and Kentucky Utilities customers have requested the advanced meters, but there are a lot left. The company has set aside funding to pay for 5,000 meters for both LG&E and KU customers. For more information about the program, click here.

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