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Daox 11-08-10 10:13 AM

Energy tracker development - we need your input
Ben is working on the energy tracker! So, we need to give him input so we can account for all the different setups we all have out there. Basically, we need to account for all the different forms of energy usage so you can plug it all in. Here are the input fields I have thought of so far:

heating degree days
cooling degree days
number of days since last bill / fill up
natural gas - therms, CCF, cubic meter
LPG - measured in gallons?
electricity - kWh, needs fields for usage and generation
wood - measured in cords? Is there a better way to measure this?
wood pellets - lbs
oil - gallons
all above measurements with a cost per gallon/therm/etc.

Anyway, any input at all would be helpful here. We want to make it as useful as possible.



Update/To Do List:

[X] Integrate users/homes
[X] Add all suggested inputs
[ ] Unit conversion
[X] Image upload
[ ] Graphing
[X] Main page display
[X] Move to non-test page
[X] Allow user editing
[X] Individual home page viewing
[X] Hide "nones" on individual pages
[ ] Hide stuff with 0 values
[X] Allow entry editing
[X] Show heating/cooling degree days and notes from entries on the house page
[ ] Add user's house link under user name/avatar on the forum
[ ] Make signature image to summarize energy usage
[ ] Remove "user" from energy log entries
[ ] Delete entry option

SVOboy 11-08-10 10:54 AM

Thanks for posting this, Tim.

Hopefully I can get all the suggestions etc in the code by tomorrow.

benpope 11-08-10 11:06 AM

Do you have a feature to note when you make a renovation? That would make it easier to see the effect of any given project.

Daox 11-08-10 11:22 AM

You could probably put stuff like that in a notes field.

strider3700 11-08-10 12:21 PM

I track the following for electric usage

billing date, days on bill, kwh used, usage cost, taxes, fees, total cost(calculated), kwh/h(calc), kwh/day(calc), usage percentage( usage cost/total cost), co2 produced (calc), HDD, CDD, KWH/HDD(calc), KWH/CDD(calc), Notes

for the C02 production it would be best if we could enter and store the co2/kwh. My electric is 22 grams c02/kwh but everwhere is going to be different of course.

we're now in a tiered system but I haven't implemented that into my spread sheet yet. Ours works that you pay rate X for the first tiers worth of kwh and then rate Y. I believe they do it by averaging your usage/day and basing it off of that. at the moment I just enter =tier1+tier2 but proper handling would be great. That would mean I need to store two costs as well.

Other note, I get billed bi-monthly and it's split across years, so the next bill will be december 2010/ january 2011 and it never lines up with the start of the month.

Different worksheet I track water usage
Date, number of days on bill, current meter reading, previous meter reading, consumption in cubic meters, consumption in gallons (calc), gallons/day(calc), cost of water, cost/gallon(calc), gallons/day(calc)

NeilBlanchard 11-08-10 09:04 PM

Wood pellets are measured in tons/pounds. Several people I know heat primarily with them.

Piwoslaw 11-09-10 12:50 AM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 9202)
number of days since last bill / fill up

How about a date/meter reading option?

Originally Posted by Daox (Post 9202)
natural gas - therms

Could there be an option for natural gas in cubic meters (or at least some old-fashioned, backwards, imperial unit of volume)?

Daox 11-09-10 05:47 AM

Wood pellets, I didn't think of that. Thanks Neil.

I'm sure we can incorporate those suggestions Piwoslaw.

RobertSmalls 11-09-10 06:31 AM

It would be nice if you could input your data in your native units, and then have the system convert everyone's input to a single standard unit. I buy my natural gas by the CCF, which I believe is "100 cubic feet" or about 1.03 therms.

Piwoslaw 11-09-10 07:22 AM

Even though I'd like to enter my gas in volume units, I can see a potential problem: natural gas has a different amount of methane depending on where it comes from, and this effects the amount of kWh per unit. Ideally we could enter local parameters, like kWh per unit of volume, and save them, then just update how much has been used. This adds complication, so it's not something for the first version.

BTW: Do we need therms? Kilowatt-hours are much better units since they can easily be compared with electricity usage.

Daox 11-09-10 07:44 AM

My natural gas use is measured in therms, so thats how I'd like to input it. I have no problem discussing more universally friendly ways to compare our data, but I don't want to restrict people to input everything in kWh. Not sure if thats what you meant or not.

Converting everything to kWh isn't a bad idea though for comparison sake.

Piwoslaw 11-09-10 07:55 AM

Sorry if I wasn't clear: there should be many possible ways to enter how much of what you've used. "Native units" as Robert called them. These get automatically converted to some internal unit, so that we're dealing only with apples, or only with oranges. My vote is that kWh be the internal unit, not therms (but input in therms should still be an option).

Most important right now is to get this tracker working, then we can focus on the UI.

Xringer 11-09-10 10:36 AM

Wallet weight
One measurement that a lot of people use, is placing their wallet on a scale.. ;)

I don't know much about CO2, but I do like to save money.
When I look at my bills for electrical/kwh & fuel oil/gallons, I can tell how well we are doing overall.

For more precision, I try to factor in the local weather data.
Mostly, I use the average temperature data.
Weather Station History : Weather Underground
I can scroll down and click on the [Comma Delimited File] button and download for Excel.
I have found the local(Boston) published 'degree days' info isn't very useful,
since it does not seem to account for the solar gain we get on sunny days.

Using my history data, I know my daily Sanyo use is going to be about 6 to 8 kwh when the average outdoors is near 40 deg F.
When it's cloudy most of the day and 40 dF, I expect to use just under 10 kwh/day. (About 2 USD).

My point is, record some history as a baseline and then you can make changes and see the results pretty quickly..
I know from experience, that if you want good data, make one change at a time.. :o

Daox 11-09-10 11:20 AM

Yeah, we'll add a cost/unit to each unit entry.

strider3700 11-09-10 01:53 PM

Yep cost is important to me, the reason I break my cost up into usage,taxes and fees is I've noticed that although we've had very small increases in the cost/kwh we're gradually getting more and more fees and taxes added to the cost. This has resulted in my bills going from 90% being usage charges to low 80's being usage charges while we still get to hear how we have some of the lowest rates in north america and prices won't be increasing...

Xringer 11-09-10 02:30 PM

I don't even look at my actual cost of Kw hours. It's not relevant at all.

(I think it might be around 12 cents?) I always recalculate the kwh rate using the total cost.
Which is currently between 20 & 21 cents per kwh..
The Efergy power monitor connected to the Sanyo rounds off to the penny,
so I just use 21 cents, to keep it ballparked.

We spent $11.30 cents last week. $1.61 per day to heat this house.
That is way less than burning a few gallons of oil every day.. :eek:

strider3700 11-09-10 04:44 PM

holy crap, I've been complaining because it used to be 6.7 cents/kwh and it's now costing me as high as 8.1 cents/kwh.

21 cents/kwh would sure put some serious conservation in place in this province. It would also bankrupt a bunch of people I'm sure.

Back on topic, I'm not sure if you want to implement specific usage monitoring in the tracker or not. I also track my laundry usage, # of loads cold/hot number dried/partially dried/clothesline dried and all the associated kwh/co2 calculations on that.

RobertSmalls 11-09-10 05:14 PM


Originally Posted by Piwoslaw (Post 9241)
My vote is that kWh be the internal unit, not therms (but input in therms should still be an option).

Seconded. It is the logical choice.

SVOboy 11-14-10 03:41 AM


Originally Posted by benpope (Post 9213)
Do you have a feature to note when you make a renovation? That would make it easier to see the effect of any given project.

I'm planning on adding a timeline function so you can tag specific renovations along a graph. But this is more of a pie in the sky future thing, so for now use the notes as Tim suggested :p

SVOboy 11-17-10 06:35 AM

Hey guys,

Test pages up at: EcoRenovator Energy Tracker - EcoRenovator

Super rough, so keep that in mind. Just wanted to let you guys know how it was progressing. Let me know what fields you want added in and I'll get to it.


Daox 11-17-10 06:41 AM

I suppose it would be nice to have a heating/cooling system in the house. Some examples:

Primary Heating System
Secondary Heating System
Tertiary Heating System

Examples would be:
Gas forced air
Solar hot water
Wood stove

You'd do the same with cooling systems as well.

Do you guys think this would be useful? Perhaps just leaving it as an text field would be fine instead of a drop down? Drop downs are better for searches, but they don't always have everything in them.

More feedback. :)

SVOboy 11-17-10 06:58 AM

Added Tim's suggestions. Gimme more, looks a little bare as it is.

Piwoslaw 11-17-10 08:29 AM

1 Attachment(s)
OK, so what exactly am I seeing?

SVOboy used 8 (kWh? therms?) on June 17 2010?
And Daox used 8 on January 1 2010, then 0 until June 1 2010, after that 8 between June 1 and October 1 2010? Then it goes back to April 1 2010?

How is this going to be displayed? Will it be a bar graph like in EM's fuel log, and will it be accessable from a member's profile and/or a link under his avatar? Or will everyone's data be grouped together in a dedicated section?

I want to help out so I'll my data in as soon as I find and convert it. How often should I enter data? Every month, every day, 2-4 times a year? Will everyone's data get converted to something that's easily comparable, for example kWh per day? That way when I look at a list of numbers I'm not comparing Daox's total for 2 months with my total for 2 weeks.

Daox 11-17-10 08:38 AM

Its all just test data so far. Obviously, the reporting functionality isn't fully developed yet.

You shouldn't have to do any conversions to input energy usage, we should be able to let you input whatever units you have. After that the site will convert them to the universal comparison unit we decide on which right now is kWh.

You can enter data as often as you like. I'll be doing it monthly. Some people only buy wood once a year, they can enter it yearly. It will all average out over time.

strider3700 11-17-10 08:55 AM

For the heating systems you need to add more options

My house is air source heatpump, electric furnace and woodstove.

Also for the prices on the next page what is that meant to be? electricity price is this per kwh or for the total bill?

Daox 11-17-10 09:40 AM

Yes, more heating options need to be added. We'll also need cooling systems. I'll keep an official list here:

heating systems
gas forced air
wood stove
air source heat pump
oil boiler
gas boiler
ground source heat pump
solar hot water
solar hot air

cooling systems
whole house fan
air source heat pump
ground source heat pump
evaporative cooler

water heating systems
On-demand gas
On-demand electric
Tank gas
Tank electric
Tank solar
Tank air source heat pump
Tank ground source heat pump
Tank wood stove
Tank oil

What else am I missing?

Do we want to specify what water heating systems we have? Its a fairly large portion of energy use. I'd think so. EDIT: Added them per Piwoslaw's list.

Prices will be in price/unit.

SVOboy 11-17-10 09:50 AM

Thanks for keeping the list Tim.

Updates: now allows correlation of home to entries. Basically essential. It's getting late here in korea so I'll get some more work done tomorrow morning. On the chopping block for then is updating the fields you guys have mentioned, as well as updating the main page to something that actually means something. It may be boring at first (just a table of values), but at least it'll meaningfully cough up information.

Near future planned additions:
- editing function
- picture uploading capability
- graphs
- conversion inputs for varying means of measuring

Keep the ideas coming, I appreciate the help.


Piwoslaw 11-17-10 10:28 AM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 9456)
Do we want to specify what water heating systems we have? Its a fairly large portion of energy use. I'd think so.

Yes, we do.
  • On-demand gas,
  • On-demand electric,
  • Tank gas,
  • Tank electric,
  • Tank solar,
  • Tank air source heat pump,
  • Tank ground source heat pump,
  • Tank wood stove,
  • Tank cosmic radiation (just keeping you on your toes:p)
  • Any combination of the above.
We have two hot water heaters, one on each floor (there used to be two families in our house), which will get replaced sooner or later by a hot water tank, electric with solar assist (or the other way around, hopefully). Maybe with a small heat pump to capture waste heat from ventilation. So I'd like to have a few options for hot water sources in the future.

Daox 11-17-10 11:01 AM

Yeah, we'll have to have primary/secondary/tertiary water heating systems as well.

Xringer 11-17-10 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 9456)

heating systems
natural gas furnace
wood stove
air source heat pump
oil boiler
natural gas boiler
ground source heat pump
solar hot water
solar hot air

cooling systems
whole house fan
air source heat pump
ground source heat pump
evaporative cooler

water heating systems
On-demand gas
On-demand electric
Tank gas
Tank electric
Tank solar
Tank air source heat pump
Tank ground source heat pump
Tank wood stove

What else am I missing?

For cooling and heating, I think Mini-split Inverter ASHP should have it's own category.
It after all Ductless is cheaper to run, and a very different breed of animal when compared to regular (1970s?) heat pumps.

For water heating systems, Tank Oil should be on the list.
PV might be added too.. :)
Or my Hybrid hot-water system, using both oil and PV.. :o

Actually, I might even do some Hybrid Oil+PV house heating this winter.
We have our oil burner on a 1/2 hour timer (early AM run), but if there
is good solar, the PV can keep the storage pretty warm all day.
So at night, I can open the check-valve / 'free-flow' and allow semi-hot
water to convection feed up into the house for a couple of hours..
Eureka! PV+Oil heating.. A few BTU anyways.. :D
Makes no sense to let heat dissipate into basement floor etc,
overnight, when it can assist the Sanyo (keeping us warm while watching TV). :)

Daox 11-17-10 01:20 PM

Added tank oil to the list.

I'm really not sure about splitting up ASHP into sub-categories. We will have to add a text field to specify our ecorenovation and modifications. For instance my attic heat blower thingy won't even have a category, but I'll have it listed in my ecorenovations list with a link to the thread for more info. These categories are mainly just for users who want to search through the house database and look at all houses using gas forced air or something like that. If you guys think I'm wrong please feel free to say so. I just see this as a more general categorization.

SVOboy 11-17-10 09:36 PM

Updated inputs for the home field. Just testing it out. Feel free to add your real data to it, when I go through and delete the test junk, I'll leave real looking things there. When I get the editing functions up, they'll be editable.

SVOboy 11-17-10 09:52 PM

Also, looking for idea on what you guys want on the home page? Currently have it set up to show recent entries for energy use, but really anything could be there. So lemme know what you wanna see there.

Anyway, as I said, feel free to enter your home information now. I'm gonna get some sightseeing done in korea now, but when I get back tonight (your morning time), I'll be focusing on adding a personal home/record display as well as editing functions.


Daox 11-18-10 06:38 AM

I had Ben update the heating system list. It didn't have any LPG items on the list, so I combined them with natural gas.

heating systems:
gas forced air
wood stove
air source heat pump
oil boiler
gas boiler
ground source heat pump
solar hot water
solar hot air

Thoughts on this?

Daox 11-18-10 06:42 AM

I think another good idea is linking the home heating/cooling/water heating systems to the energy entry form. IE if you have gas forced air and a gas water heater, you only see an input for gas and electricity on the energy input form, not wood, wood pellets, etc.

SVOboy 11-18-10 09:06 AM

Individual pages online!

Daox 11-18-10 09:09 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Great to see the progress being made.

I'd like to see the fields that have "none" hidden from view unless editing.

Daox 11-18-10 09:10 AM

I'm guessing you haven't done it yet, but you'll add the entries for each house to the individual pages.

Piwoslaw 11-18-10 01:02 PM

Two questions:
  1. What temperatures do we use for HDD and CDD? I'm using Heating & Cooling Degree Days - Free Worldwide Data Calculation and there is an option for temperature. I take it that the temperature we'll be using will be in F?
  2. If my house doesn't have a cooling system, then do I need to fill out CDD?

Daox 11-18-10 01:14 PM

1) I'd say we should stick to 65F/18.5C. It seems to be the standard as far as I've read. I'd like to allow you to input it in either F or C. Ben will need to make provisions for this as well as for the rest of the units and their different measurements.

2) You don't have to log CDD, but you might like to just to log it. I log it because I use fans to cool the house at night and more heat = more fan use and more electric use.

BTW, thanks everyone for the feedback! The more feedback we get the better we can make the energy tracker.

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