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Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works as advertised. Turns saving energy into a game!, February 10, 2009
This review is from: TED The Energy Detective Electricity Monitor TED1001 (Electronics)
The best thing about this little gizmo is that it makes energy conservation fun. Once you see how much electricity you are using, and how much each appliance uses, you start discovering new ways to save.

Installation was a bit intimidating for a total novice. But once we got the TED working, it worked fine and is fun to use.

Installation challenges: Our service panel has incoming "hot" wires that remain live even when the main breaker is turned off. So to be sure we were installing the sending unit safely, we had to do some online homework on home wiring, then plan carefully to install the sending unit safely and quickly by flashlight. (The instruction manual's tiny print was almost illegible, so we made a copy and enlarged it.)

Next, the receiving unit didn't work. After tediously rechecking everything, we finally called customer service. They responded promptly and immediately diagnosed the (apparently common) problem: TED will not work in all outlets, even on the correct "phase." Electrical "noise" from our computer and peripherals were interfering with TED's reception. Once I plugged TED into an outlet across the room, it worked fine and has ever since.

The "Footprints" software (purchased separately) is a bit crude, but does its job. It records a data stream that you can analyze in different ways. Most importantly, it showed us us the peak consumption when our electric furnace kicked in during the wee hours, enabling us to tweak our thermostat to further reduce waste.

By entering into TED your cost per Kw of electricity (available from your electric bill), you display current and historical consumption in either Kw or dollars.

Once installed, TED's drawbacks are relatively minor, but really should be fixed in the next version: 1) the receiving unit itself saves no data; to maintain a data stream, it must be connected continuously to the computer, which eats up about 16K RAM. 2) For some reason, our receiving unit occasionally "reboots" when touched, so the "counter" restarts. 3) the Footprints software is a bit clunky, making it tedius to review past data.

The bottom line: By making us conscious of electrical consumption and source, TED motivated us to make some relatively simple changes -- lowering the thermostat at night and during the day, installing CFL's and turning out lights, putting a timer on the water heater, etc. -- that dramatically cut our electric use. In fact, in our first month of use, January 09, our Kw consumption per local "degree day" (which corrects for weather conditions) dropped over 30% compared to the previous year.

P.S. The TED is also a great conversation piece. Everybody who sees it is intrigued.
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