If there ever was an Energy Meter that deserved the SMART label, it's the UPM EM-100!
Why We Needed It
When we first received our newly 'adjusted' Hydro bill last week we were sick. Somewhere within our home must live a ravenous colony of Energy Vampires! What other explanation to give for why our normally average 1300 to 1800 kw per billing period home should suddenly catapult into a 3700-5400 kw per billing period energy sucking leech?
The problem started when the Smart meters were installed in our area and were apparently installed wrong. Our smart meter was labeled as being attached to the end home, his to ours and the two neighbors in between had been switched as well. The problem was only realized after the Hydro Company admitted in April that they'd 'forgotten' to adjust customers who were on Equal Billing plans for the past 5 years. When two neighbors received bills that they felt were incorrect thanks to corrections the Company was now trying to make, they suspected that they were receiving someone else's billings and although they were right, it wasn't the whole story. As we have never been Equal bill customers, we weren't affected by the Equal Billing problems, but we had also not seen any drops in our hydro bills that would have alerted us to the fact we were not correctly installed or billed either. With the newly adjusted exhorbitant claims the Hydro Company was now handing us we needed help to prove that our Smart Meter is actually 'dumb'. We turned to the UPM EM-100 Energy Meter to help us figure out what was really happening.
How it Works
The EM100 Energy Meter from UPM Marketing, Inc. in Alberta Canada has been found by a number of people to be quite accurate and at only $24.99 it is money very well spent. I decided to contact the Company to obtain a rough variance percentage for it's actual accuracy to work with. Our last bill showed us using over 5400kws and I wanted our test readings to be as accurate as possible. To do this I contacted UPM Marketing, the manufacturers of our newest 'best' friend.
The EM100 was designed for use with large appliances and the very helpful gentleman whom I contacted at UPM Marketing recommended we test the Meter with a 100w or 60w bulb first and then take the difference in wattage reflected, if any, into consideration to arrive at any variance which could then become our margin of error. (Some energy meters cannot register readings below 5 watts nor exceed wattage high enough to be used on high wattage appliances. The EM-100 however hasn't shown any problems in these areas, reading watts as low as 2 and as high as 1409.) As we'd long since tossed all high watt bulbs and didn't wish to purchase one for the test, we measured a 13w CFL bulb instead and found that the meter read it as generating 12w, pretty accurate in my books. After speaking further with an Electrician who informed us that the EM100 was indeed quite accurate we knew we were in business.
The EM100 Energy Meter allows you to quickly and easily measure the actual Watt/Kilowatt and pricing for use of almost all of the appliances and electrical equipment in your home except for those things that are 'hard wired' meaning you can't simply plug them into the face of the meter. For that you would want to obtain a unit that allows you to read the usage directly at the Circuit breaker. By simply programming the little meter which comes with instructions, to reflect your current Hydro cost you just plug the Meter into any standard wall receptacle and attach the appliance/equipment you wish to get a reading for into the outlet that is on the face of the meter. It accepts both grounded (with 3rd prongs) and non-grounded plug ins. Once you've plugged in the item you are testing if it happens to be a "Vampire", one of those items that uses a small amount of current regardless of whether or not it is in actual use such as some cell phone chargers or the big black or white block power cords, or anything that even after turned off remains warm, the EM100 tells you this.
The digital read out screen is easy to see and read and the only difficulty we've found with it is if we have plugged it into an area were there is something blocking almost all light (which right now is almost every corner of our home thanks to our fear of using anything electrical right now.) I wouldn't mind seeing a back lit screen if it were possible to incorporate without affecting the overall accuracy.
What It Taught Us
Many of the readings we got were surprising, in a good way. We learned that our fridge isn't a horrible hog and except for the fact that it has just started leaking water all over our nicely new lain wood floors, we would probably keep it. We also found with EM-100's help that every time we open the door on the microwave, the stove or the fridge, we are in effect increasing wattage which now we know will help us curb those odd times when we think only a second or two of leaving the door open can't awaken the sleeping Vampires. Do it often enough and I'm sure it would add a few extra dollars to the bottom line. Our computers, especially my husband's with a power house video card? Not the energy hogs everyone thinks they are in reality, not cheap enough that you want them running 24/7 but certainly no big drain on the kilowatt front by any means.
In all honesty I must give the EM100 a "10". For a little device that is designed to help the consumer save on their energy consumption, zero in on energy hogs and Vampires and help a consumer understand what each appliance and electrically dependent item in their home is costing them on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis, the EM100 helped us determine that we have very few "Vampires", always good to know. From the looks of it the only Vampire we do have is none other than the one meter that is touted as SMART. Our initial findings brought us right in line with what our 4 year history has been all along and we've not yet been able to find the "hogs" responsible for the 60-95.5 kws per day Hydro claims we are using. Our current meter reading for our home alone surpasses the full years total meter readings for 6 of our neighbors homes (16 people total) combined, and could easily have operated my husband's 17 hour a day industrial business running heavy duty equipment for the entire last 10 months. Thanks to the EM-100 we've discovered that we are still just one home, with a normal level of energy consumption, now we just have to vanquish the real Vampire, our stupid Smart Meter and perhaps we'll be back to were we've really been all along and be able to once again enjoy cooked meals rather than the cold foods and take out we've been living on the past few weeks and clean laundry would be really nice too I think, as we're all getting a little low on bed clothes and clothing right now. It's still a fight I'm sure as the Hydro Company has made many errors in a short time with some financial losses to recover due to these, but we've definitely got enough data now thanks to the EM-100 to start fashioning our "Silver Bullet" of factual documented actual readings and hopefully we'll soon be able to quiet the excessively beating heart of the nastiest Energy Vampire around and get one installed that works correctly.
With our little EM100 Energy Meter we believe we'll not only prove the Smart Meter to our home is actually defective but we've already proven to ourselves that indeed we ARE pretty reasonable energy savers after all and thanks to our one truly SMART meter, the UPM EM-100, we're looking forward to remaining that way!