For Carly McFetridge, the ability to monitor energy consumption in her home in real time is a lesson in self-awareness.
"I'm of the boomer generation so for me, we just didn't grow up having to be aware of conservation or anything," said the 63-year-old retired community health nurse.
"We'd turn on the lights and the TV to make it seem like someone was home when we went out."
But for the past month, McFetridge has been learning and becoming more aware of how energy in her Kerrisdale home is used and how much it's costing her, thanks to a palm-sized digital device that syncs up with her home's B.C. Hydro smart meter.
The stand-alone device is called an Emu, and resembles a pager. Another model, called the Eagle, connects to the Internet and syncs up with a smartphone or computer display. The Emu and the Eagle are available for $35 and $65.
McFetridge has been using the Emu for a month and just recently installed the Eagle as well.
"For me, just because of the way it reads out, it's easier to visualize and track," McFetridge said of the Eagle, which also features a bar graph in its display, which turns red whenever there's a spike in power.
"It's just so graphic and such a powerful message that it's really made me rethink what power I'm using in the house."
McFetridge and her husband live in a 3,000-square-foot single-story home, and use only about half the house on a regular basis. And while energy usage has been cut significantly since the couple became empty nesters, McFetridge said it was still a shock to see how power is used.
While speaking with The Province, energy usage in McFetridge's home was registered at 0.83 kilowatts. After she turned on her stove, energy usage spiked to 5.41 kilowatts.
"Once I figured that out, I started playing around with it," said McFetridge, who said she's since cut down on doing laundry from up to four times a week, to only once or twice a week.
"I would just encourage people to give it a try and be patient with it and see how it becomes a part of their daily routine."
The folks at B.C. Hydro are hoping customers will come to the same realization as McFetridge.
"We have very reliable electricity supply in B.C.," B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Simi Heer said in an email.
"So most British Columbians don't need to think about electricity on a daily basis: We flick a switch and the light comes on; we plug in our iPad chargers and the device just charges.
"But now, the information will be right in front of people so they can actually make a connection between their energy use and electricity bills you can see the dollar impact of your actions right away."