Project Information

In this project, students collect, analyze, and share real‐time electricity data gathered from home energy monitors that allow homeowners to see electricity usage in real‐time and/or from“smart” utility meters (meters that provide real‐time data). Using data from these and other tools such as Kill A Watt meters, students design and carry out investigations and use their findings to make recommendations, based on evidence, for reducing consumption to homeowners.

At the time of this writing, Maine’s largest electric supply companies (Bangor Hydroelectric and Central Maine Power Company) have joined utility companies across the country installing “smart” electricity meters. Bangor Hydroelectric reports that it has approximately 116,000 smart meters already deployed to residential customers within their service territory, which is 97% of their total meters. These installations were complete in 2005.  The remaining 3% of meters are scheduled to be installed by the end of 2011. Central Maine Power began its smart meter installation in September of 2010 and expects to finish in 2012. When installation is complete, Maine will have the highest concentration of smart meters in the nation projected to be at 95% of customers. Both utility companies have additional information regarding smart or automated meters on their respective websites.

Until that time however, this series of investigations temporarily relies on an intermediate device, initially “The Energy Detective” or TED and Google PowerMeter to access and share electricity data from the home for student investigations.  In June of 2011, Google announced it was discontinuing its PowerMeter application. Though the materials developed still reference these tools, the activities developed readily transfer to other monitoring technologies. We have since established a group of volunteers from across Maine who have installed eMonitors.  Students and others interested in analyzing home electricity data will be able to access this data and use this data to conduct investigations.  In addition to providing total home electricity use, eMonitors provide a circuit by circuit breakdown of electricity use. Additional details about how this technology collects information about home electricity is explained in detail at the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance face-to-face workshops.

If you are interested in learning how you can gain access to real-time electricity data, contact

Materials for this project were developed by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance under the Maine Energy Education Project funded by Efficiency Maine Trust. Additional funding for field testing materials was through the PowerSleuth Meets PowerMeter citizen science project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in partnership with the Augusta School District and administered by the Department of Education. 

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