- Infrared thermometer: check
- Kill-a-watt: check
- Whole-house electricity monitor: check
At first glance, you might think my home-energy toolkit was pretty full, and I guess you’d be right. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other cool toys professional and scientific tools out there that could help me.
I’m sitting in on some Energy Management training this week at NC State, and today’s session covered the tools of professional commercial energy auditors. Get a load of these beauties:
These pincers wrap around a wire or circuit and can measure the current passing through. Think Kill-a-Watt but without the unplugging and replugging. In fact, you don’t even need something with a plug!
This data logger keeps track of when the lights turn on and off, giving you a digital record of how long your wife left the bathroom lights on, admissible in a court of law. We used a few of these in a class I taught on energy efficiency at UNC. The models the students used also had motion detectors to establish when the room was occupied with the lights on (value) vs. unoccupied with the lights on (waste.)
Thermal cameras are a bit pricey, but if an infra red thermometer = feeling your way through a dark room in the middle of the night, this camera is like turning the lights on. There’s just no way to replicate the view it gives you into air leaks and energy flows inside your house.
Little did you know, small air leaks emit a high-frequency noise that is directional, and undetectable to your ear. The instructor gave the detector to the guy in the back of the class, then crossed the room and squeezed an eye-drop bottle. The detector lit up like a Christmas tree every time he squeezed.
While useful in an industrial setting for detecting compressed air or steam leaks, I’m not sure just how I’d use one of these at home. Maybe finding leaks in the air mattress or bike tires?
Ah, who cares. Sometimes you want the tool toy because it’s awesome. You can always think of a reason to use it after you buy one!