We are now going back some 2.5 years from now…
At that point in time (November 2011) we were (my wife and I) about to upgrade our house with some building work and add renewable energy sources (Solar). I thought I would need to record my water/gas/electricity consumption, so I would measure the effect of this new work.
In attempting to save energy it is best to have some empirical data that you can use to measure any savings that may be available.
With respect to energy consumption, I have paper/electronic bills of this information going back a long while, I also have notes relating to things like when insulation was added/removed, when lighting had changed in a big way etc etc.
I started to look for a ‘simple’ monitoring/recording system, I turned to the computer. I spent about 4 hours on research over one weekend and plumped for some energy monitoring devices by CurrentCost. These would monitor electricity usage and ‘promised’ to be able to be extended in the future to add water and gas monitoring. In the mean time I would monitor Water/Gas manually.
The devices duly arrived and were setup, it was a simple process. I’ll go into more detail in another post, and as this port is retrospective, I can add some hindsight!!
The CurrentCost sensors were installed and started recording electricity data…
I continued to record water/gas data manually 😦
My first issues came a few months later when I wanted to view my data in a few graphs. As the data was stored in two different places I had to combine it myself so that I could annotate with Tags like “Added 25m2 250mm celotex to new kitchen walls”.
IMHO: Its no benefit just recording data without annotations, the annotations give meaning. An annotation could be like those above, it could also be the result of another measurement, like outside air temperature. (That ‘air temp’ could also be a recorded data stream).
I stopped recording the data to a location outside of my direct control, I wanted a way to combine data and use it myself.
I found out that the CurrentCost EnvIR device could output XML data from its serial port – perhaps I could make use of that data?
Well at about that time, we had just begin using Google Apps for our family email etc. Google spreadsheet is part of that offering – could they be joined together?
It turns out they could. I wrote a small app (more later) for Google App Engine that took the serial XML data from the Current Cost EnvIR, and placed it into a google spreadsheet on my Google Apps domain.
I manually update a related spreadsheet in Google Docs.
Result:I can now ‘graph’ my data in one place and annotate it – nice.
Time is moving on in this set of catchup posts. The next post picks up 6 months later.