Jami Manastryski hasn’t been as good with his energy use as he usually is. The information is right there, on the aggregate display he can access from the homes monitored by the energy management software of his company, Check-It Monitoring Solutions.
Jami’s problem? He opened his home’s pool, and his electricity use shot up. Pool pumps will do that.
Check-It Monitoring Solutions provides builders, developers, HVAC installers, electricians, commercial building owners and others a way to monitor several of their clients’ homes or those in a development. The software can also aggregate data to detect usage trends or troubleshoot systems issues and failures. A developer, builder or community organization can track air conditioning usage during hot months, for example, and see the run times.
“Our focus is on the data gathered and innovative ways to make the information extremely useful,” Manastryski says.
Check-It’s software is even being used to monitor the geothermal heating and cooling systems of a large development in British Columbia, Canada. In a web demo, Manastryski flips to graphs that show the energy used by the geothermal heat exchangers and the corresponding temperature drop, as the geothermal systems are currently being used to cool those residences. (Geothermal systems work by using the heat from beneath the ground to help warm a home and by pulling heat out of a home to cool it.)
Because of the monitoring, Check-It was able to detect a problem in a geothermal system at a residence that wasn’t working properly. A comparable amount of energy was being used, but the house wasn’t cooling like the others.
Manastryski says the Check-It software is also being used as a benchmarking and trending tool for some homes being rebuilt in New Orleans under U.S. Department of Energy efficiency guidelines. “The DOE has the expectation that homebuilder will keep track of data,” he says.
Check-It isn’t a hardware developer, but a cloud-based software system that can work with a variety or devices, says Manastryski. Circuit-based electricity monitoring can be done via a Brultech monitor that can measure the electricity use on 7 circuits—and several of these can be tied together. Check-It works with some other monitoring solutions as well. “We worked with several energy monitor manufacturers and can integrate with any hardware using industry standard communications such as Modbus or BacNet. This includes Dent Instruments, Accuenergy, GE and other custom solutions,” says Manastryski.
The geothermal monitoring uses temperature sensors on the system’s supply and return lines, which send wireless ZigBee signals to a gateway. Check-It uses gateways from Universal Devices and Digi International. Manastryski’s own house uses Insteon wireless light switches and power outlets, so he can see whether lights or other devices are on and turn them on or off via the interface. Sensors on doors and windows can also be monitored.
Prices for the software service vary, but Manastryski says standard packages start at around $99 a year, independent of the hardware. And include smartphone apps (including iPhone, Android and a BlackBerry browser), web portal, data storage and aggregation for contractors.
Consumers can also use the system, and an easy-to-comprehend web interface that uses a 1 to 10 rating from Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick.
Manastryski says branded versions of Check-It Monitoring Solutions will be available at a large retailer in the third to fourth quarter.