There’s an Owl in my kitchen

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OWL monitor reduces carbon footprintAs you’ll be aware, we try and keep our electricity consumption to a minimum here at Chez Green.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard and more recently we’ve found ourselves getting back into lazy habits. We’ve been leaving the router on all night, having the immersion heater on once a day rather than when we need it and I’ve been known to put the oven on for one jacket potato (hangs head).

However, there’s a friendly  neat gadget that promises to help us with that – the OWL; an award winning wireless electricity monitor.

Real time analysis

The OWL monitor shows you, in real time, how much electricity you are using both in terms of power and cost. It challenges the ‘out of side, out of mind’ approach to life and makes sure you are aware, every minute of the day, just how much electricity you are consuming. This means you can see in real time the benefits of turning off electrical devices at home. If you turn a light off or turn something off standby you can see immediately how much this reduces your overall consumption.

It also means there is no sneaking around the house turning on lights and heaters without Ma Green knowing what you are up to.

Set up

It took me 5 minutes to install, once I’d found the screwdriver under Little Miss Green’s bed,  but then 35 minutes to set up and programme. Whether I am clearly not a wise owl or the instructions were written for someone with a degree in engineering, I don’t know. I’d love to hear your experiences about this!

Anyway, once set up the OWL is simple to run and maintain and doesn’t regurgitate too many unsightly pellets.

Tariffs

Although you can programme the OWL for 4 different tariffs, I hit upon a slight challenge. Our tariff is based on the first several hundred KWh at one value and everything after that is another value. I’ve programmed mine for somewhere mid-range and will have to use the OWL as a guide, not gospel.[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]B001JJCLS0[/amazon-product]

Save money

OWL have calculated that using a monitor can save the average user over £400 on their annual energy bill. Although that sounds a staggering amount to me (my overall annual bill is about £600) it sounds like we could use some help in the UK. According to the Energy Saving Trust, although Britons show a strong awareness of climate change issues, as a nation we are the worst energy wasters with around 71% of us admitting to leaving electrical appliances on standby…

I feel better already.

Benefits

Having used this monitor for a while, it’s easy to see the benefits. Rather than be the nagging Mum / wife we can all see at a glance how much electricity we are using which means we are all taking responsibility for doing our bit. Little Miss Green has become the OWL police and if the reading goes above a certain level (you can set an alarm to warn you if you wish) she’s asking who has left what on and is stalking around the house searching for clues.

This makes it a fun gadget to use while educating yourselves about a serious issue. It also highlights the culprits in the house such as that appliance left on standby or the last person to turn the convector heater on and leave it warming an empty room.

Kettles

The two things that send our reading shooting up are use of the kettle – now I really understand why you should only boil the amount of water you need – and our tankless water heater. While it’s nice to boil a kettle, get distracted and come back later to boil it up again, now this is frowned on behaviour at Chez Green and Mr Green gets sent to bed with no supper.

Running total

One fantastic amendment to this gadget (I borrowed one of the first OWLs from a friend years ago) is a running total. You can store it over a set period of time to give you an analysis of whether or not you are succeeding in reducing your consumption. This is a great feature that was sadly lacking on the earlier models. Another huge thumbs up is the quality of the wireless range. We have thick walls here at home and there is no problem getting a read out anywhere in the house. It’s far more reliable than the WIFI or mobile phone signal which means instead of wasting time twittering I’m now gazing lovingly at my OWL monitor waiting for someone to perform the next sin.

OWL USB Connect

Apparently you can get a USB connector as an add on tool. This streams the information to your computer so you can track your electricity usage while you work. It draws and plots pretty graphs and means you can compare your usage week by week. I would love to get my mitts on one of these as I can imagine the fun of being shut away in the office writing and bellowing “Who’s left something on!?” and my two, open jawed, wondering whether I’ve got a crystal ball up there or  xray vision that allows me to see through walls.

Verdict

If I could have a wishlist of features, I would like to be able to isolate one appliance and see specifically how much that costs me to run in a 24 hour period – for example the freezer. Or to see how much a ten minute shower costs (Mr G) or how much it costs to make the Sunday lunch (then I might have an excuse not to do it every week).

Other than that it’s an addictive gadget with a powerful message. It’s educational and if you act on the information it’s beneficial to the planet and your bank balance. If you use the information wisely, the OWL will pay for itself in a month or two, so it’s a great investment and the perfect tool for someone starting their eco friendly journey.

5 Comments

  1. Chris Stanley on July 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    What a great little tool the owl is. As an eco-consultant one of the most common problems I see with my clients is the lazy factor. What I mean by lazy is, we need to see the results to believe the results. A lot of people do not have the patience to wait and see if they are saving money on their energy bills. They want to see the savings now or else they forget about the goal and fall back into the wasteful habits.



  2. Mrs Green on July 6, 2010 at 6:54 am

    @Chris Stanley: Hello Chris. I agree, we need to see the results, which is why these monitors work so well. I learned that by 2015, every home in the UK will be having a smart meter, so we will ALL be watching those numbers increase and decrease in our homes – it should make a big difference 🙂
    What other tools do you use in your work to overcome the lazy factor with your clients?



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