A few months ago, I received a flyer in my Toronto Hydro bill about their new peaksaver PLUS program. For free, they would install a meter so that I could monitor my energy usage. Since it was FREE! I signed up and they came by to install it last week. But just as how the upgrade from CFL bulbs to LED would have been a net loss in savings, I think this program is running a net loss and doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The device is a couple of wireless transmitters that were attached on my energy meters, and a in-home display. The transmitters transmit energy usage and the display summarizes and aggregates the information. Basically it works like one of those screens that display the weather. It’s made by Blue LIne Innovations which is a Canadian company and retails for $109. Add in the cost of sending a guy to install the device and various overhead, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost per household is about $150 – $200.

On the product’s website, the promotional materials say that these devices help homeowners reduce energy costs by 9%; and another page says it will reduce energy costs by $250. That seems to pay for the product by itself, but naturally I am skeptical.

After observing it for a week, the device estimates that I have used about $3 in electricity. So doing some quick math, it would help me save a whopping (52 * 3 = 156 * 0.09 = ) $14. In ten years, the device might pay for itself!

Secondly, this number seems plain wrong. I pay approximately $60/mth for electricity (which includes delivery and other miscellaneous charges). That number doesn’t map correctly to $3/week. I think this is either because the device is in sleep mode (and thus not receiving data) or not hooked up correctly. In any case, it is difficult to find incentive to reduce energy usage when it is only a few pennies per hour!

Finally, there is only a single device (which we currently have in our kitchen). Seeing the device may remind us to save energy – but only when we’re in the kitchen. There are a lot of other energy sinks so where are the reminders for those items?

I think Toronto Hydro received or allocated an amount of funding to energy reduction, and this is one way they are using their money. It’s certainly fun to have one of these devices for free; but I don’t think they will recoup their investment in energy savings.