EcoHomeLab November 2016 - More monitoring, emonCMS dashboards and MyHomeEnergyPlanner

It felt a bit quieter this time but still interesting with some hands on work and presentations about emonCMS dashboards, how energuy monitoring changed my :p and MyHomeEnergyPlanner, the tool for house assessments we are developing in CarbonCoop.

The electronics of the day

Duncan and Shahzad had finished building their monitors in previous sessions. But they didn't go further than uploading the firmware to Arduino and ESP and they needed to check that the monitors were working, but they were not. They focused together on Shahzad's one with me bouncing around them, not being very helpful to be honest. We got stack in the beginning of the process when trying to configure ESP to connect to a WiFi but no WiFi was available in the screen. We tried uploading the firmware again: the old one first, the new one that Trystan recently put in GitHub, and nothing, the WiFi network was not showing. We played with the jumper, the one that you need to have in place when uploading to the ESP. We put it in, we removed it, we tried everything again, hahaha, basically all the possible combinations and still didn't work. We then tried with Duncan's monitor and the problem was the same so maybe it had nothing to do with the boards... and we were doing something wrong...

I am not very sure what was happening on the other side of the table so I may be wrong. Sian was there with Ben, she has an emonTH at home with a Pi as emonBase. Now she wanted to start monitoring electricity use. We have several spare emonTx that were built ages ago so they thought to use one of them. But, there is always a bit of a but, those emonTx have the wrong RF module and work at a different frequency. So nothing, I think Ben is going to sort that and for the next session Sian will have it :)

 

emonCMS dashboards

One of the plans for the evening was to work on making basic dashboards to start getting practical info from our monitors. But as we had no working monitors this part of the session became more a presentation of some nice public dashboards that can be found online. I leave here the list of links in case anybody wants to have a look as they are public dashboards. Some of them are pretty cool and so full of information!

 

My energy monitor

After that I talked about my own experience using OpenEnergyMonitor. Just a couple of weeks using it allowed me understand my consumption patterns and my house much better:

  • My demand of electricity in a day can be anything between 3.5 and 8 kWh depending on many factors but mainly the number of meals I do in the house and the number of showers (none, just me or the kids too)

  • My base load is around 65W (router, fridge, boiler on standby and energy monitor), making a total of 1.5kWh per day, quite high in my opinion specially if I am not at home. I must look into ways of reducing this: defrosting the freezer and turn off the boiler when not in use. I need the router to be on to upload the data from the monitor.

  •  I always though that fluorescent tubes where good in terms of energy use and thanks to my monitor I discovered that they are not. I have two of them in the kitchen and they used to be on all the time as the kitchen is part of the living room. But they use 250W!!! Just a little investment in two new lamps with low energy bulbs and place them strategically has the same effect and now I am using only 22W. This is a small shift but shows very well how a little bit of information can make a great change.

  • The histogram graph (that shows the amount of energy used at specific power for a given period of time) showed to be a great source of information. The next two bullets are conclusionn from this graph.

  • Basically most of my electricity consumption is due to the cooking

  • I was always obsessed with my electric shower (9kW) as a great energy sucker but when looking at the histogram graph I realized that the energy that we spend in showers is meaningless compared with what we use for cooking. This made me happy, I can have longer showers :) and not feel terrible.

 

MyHomeEnergyPlanner

And finally I did a presentation of the house assessment tool we are developing in CarbonCoop working with our friends from Urbed.

This an open source application to be run on a web browser. The tool is intended to help householders (on their own or working with an assessor) design the retrofit works for their home in order to improve energy performance and health taking into account comfort and the cost and impact of the measures to be applied. A lot of energy has gone into making the tool user friendly but be aware that if you are not an expert having a professional doing it for you would help to get the most of it.

 

It is based on SAP2012 (the Government's Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings) but we think we have improved it by avoiding many of the assumptions that SAP makes and allowing the user to input real data instead, making the results of the assessment to be more accurate.

So what you basically do is, with the help of the libraries we have developed, input all the information about the house including the number of storeys, number and characteristics of walls, windows, roofs, floors; the heating system/s for space and water, ventilation systems and structural infiltration and a long etc. Once you have the “picture” of your house, you create new scenarios where, by applying measures, you improve the energy performance. At the end of it you get a report with all the relevant information and the differences between scenarios, and this is what you use to take the right decisions.

Do you want to give it a go? Here is the link to MyHomeEnergyPlanner, try and please get back to us with any info that can be relevant (specially if you break it as we are still in a testing stage). Also if you want to have a look at the implementation you can find the code in GitHub.

And, as a bit of marketing, if you are interested in retrofitting your house, CarbonCoop can help with this first step of assessing your house and its potential. Do it right, invest a bit of money on the planning before you spend a lot and then realize you took the wrong decisions. In this page you can get an idea about how we can help and prices.

 

We'll see you in December

So this is everything about last session. December's one will be another chance to focus and hopefully fix the issues with our energy monitors. Also Tom will show-and-tell on Expressif's new ESP chip which comes with both bluetooth and WiFi support and makes use of a dual core μP.

See you at Madlab on the 8th of December, let us know you are coming in the meetup page.

See you there,

Carlos

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