If you could save hundreds of dollars by investing a few minutes of your time, would you do it?

Learning more about energy, where it comes from, how it’s used, calculated, and affects daily life is energy literacy. Becoming energy literate helps you achieve lower energy bills, and ensures more efficient energy use in the long term.

Energy literacy involves understanding the dynamics of energy in everyday life. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the availability of energy is dependent on a variety of factors, and will eventually “run out.” Currently, we harness energy from fossil fuels (e.g. oil and coal) and biofuels (e.g. ethanol). We experience this energy all around us — when using our laptops and phones, turning on lights, and heating and cooling our environments — which is why it’s important to consider energy awareness as a form of basic world literacy.

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power are necessary to keep up with the growing demands of energy. “Increasing human energy consumption places stress on the natural processes that renew some energy resources and it depletes those that cannot be renewed,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Current attitudes towards energy — and almost complete reliance on fossil fuels to supply it — will not support the demands of the growing population and economy. Margot Gerritsen, an associate professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University, urges, “In the short term, energy efficiency is the best way to reduce oil, gas and coal consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

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Energy efficiency means conservation. The U.S. Department of Energy said conservation means reducing waste, using energy more efficiently, and making smart decisions with energy use. How can we make these decisions if we have no idea where the energy is being used or to what degree?

That’s where a curb comes in. A curb is a small energy measurement device that attaches to your breaker panel so it can measure the real-time levels of energy use by each appliance, device, and room in your home depending on how your panel is set up. With an advanced curb, like one from CURB, it is possible to track each individual A/C unit, which is a necessity — especially in Texas where many homes have multiple units — so anyone can tell which unit is using the most energy or if there are any red flags. With a curb, seeing exactly where the energy is being used automatically generates smarter decision-making. If the lights are left on all day every day, a good curb can show exactly how much energy is being consumed by those lights — and how much money it costs!

One CURB customer compared his energy bills before and after CURB, and the difference was over five hundred dollars a year! That covered more than the cost of the curb itself in less one year. Having data specific to one’s home gives back control by uncovering energy hogs, identifying ways to save and stay on budget, and tracking projected expenses.

Energy production is another essential component of energy literacy. Ultimately, solar customers want to produce more energy than they consume — but what is the best way to measure that production? Electricity bills are often difficult to read or exclude granular insights. With a sophisticated curb, not only is there a visual component to solar production, but also real-time alerts to any abnormalities in the system.

You don’t have to be an expert to be educated, but you do need access to high quality data. The most helpful curbs transmit this knowledge to individuals and proactively help them make better decisions about their energy use — saving them money and saving our world.

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