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When the red light's on, energy use is peaking in Chemainus home

Image of Rainforest Automation in-home display device

Rainforest EMU-2™ helps couple keep an eye on electricity use

When the fridge door opens and the appliance's motor kicks in, there's a surge of energy use. And while that's true in everybody's home, Glynis and Karen – a Vancouver Island couple can see exactly how much energy is being used when it happens in their kitchen.

"Everytime we open the fridge, we can see what happens," says Karen. "It's an awesome thing. Now we're getting really good about lining all our food up on the counter before opening the fridge."

That "awesome thing" is the Rainforest EMU-2™ home energy monitor, which the transplanted Albertans bought for a home they recently moved into in the seaside town of Chemainus south of Nanaimo. The home energy monitor is available to most BC Hydro customers who live in a residential detached or semi-detached home, and it constantly shows – on a small LED screen – both real-time energy use of the home and the total energy use for the current billing period.

In addition to electricity use information in dollars and kilowatts, the monitor has three easy-to-read LED lights. When electricity use is low, the green light is on. When it picks up, it moves to amber. And when electricity use is high, it's red.

"We know, as an example, that there's a significant difference between a washer and a dryer in terms of energy consumption," says Karen. "The washer hardly moves it off the green, while the dryer immediately puts it to a red."

That real-time information adds up to changes in behaviour. And for Glynis and Karen, that means changes such as a switch to what they like to call "solar drying" of laundry, which is hanging clothes outside rather than using the dryer.

"We have the energy monitor on the counter in a highly visible location – we watch it more often than the TV," says Glynis, joking, before adding: "We often cast a glance that way."

At $69.99, the Rainforest EMU-2™ is one of two Rainforest home energy options available to qualifying BC Hydro customers. The other is the $99.99 Rainforest EAGLE™, which not only provides real-time information on an in-home monitor, it displays that information on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device.

Learn more about Rainforest home energy monitors

Read about Glynis and Karen's Chemainus home, which has made's Buildings We Love list