March 12, 2013, 1:07 PM —
Image credit: IDG News Service/Nick Barber
A new, Wi-Fi connected device called the Heat Meter allows homeowners to track propane, natural gas or oil use in real time and compare their home's efficiency with others in the area.
The small unit attaches magnetically to a furnace or boiler and listens to vibrations and when the unit's flame ignites. Since most heating systems burn fuel at a constant rate, as long as the Heat Meter, made by Y Shape Inc., can detect how long the flame is burning, it will be able to accurately predict energy costs. Homeowners will need to input their home's square footage.
Radu Gogoana, a product development engineer with Y Shape Inc. likened the Heat Meter to a bathroom scale. "Just buying a scale won't help you lose weight. The Heat Meter is a measurement tool that provides useful insight to lowering your energy consumption."
Erick Fuentes leases an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has been part of the Heat Meter pilot program.
"The most interesting feature is the 'what if,'" he said. "What if I set my thermostat two degrees lower or what happens if it's two degrees higher."