Now, researchers at MIT, led by Professor of Electrical Engineering Steven Leeb, have created a system they say can tell you the power being used by every device in your home with pinpoint accuracy. And they also say it's inexpensive and simple to install.
The system is made up of a postage-stamp-sized sensor that is placed on the incoming power line to a person's home and software that analyzes the spikes and patterns in voltage to identify and monitor the energy use of each device. MIT News says that the software can "tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor, and other device in the home and show exactly which ones go on and off, at what times."
One of the key advantages to this system is that it retains the privacy of a user's home energy information. The information stays within a user's home and isn't shared with anyone else.
The system has taken Leeb and his graduate students ten years to research and develop, tackling problems and finding solutions bit by bit. First, coming up with a device that was simple to install and then how to interpret the data from the sensors to find each device's signature to monitor it.
When the system becomes a commercial product, Leeb says it will cost only about $25 to $30 per home and the non-contact sensor can be installed by the homeowner with a zip tie.