Most homeowners would jump at the idea to save money on their electricity bill. But as Fast Company writer Charlie Sorrel says, knowing exactly how much you're using is the first step to cutting back on consumption.

MIT has created a "non-contact electromagnetic field sensor," an experimental dongle that can attach to the main power line in a home and can monitor the consumption of individual devices all over the house.

Sorrel writes:

In the combination of the fast sampling rate, which is accurate enough to detect power spikes and patterns in voltage and current, and the software, which can "tell the difference between every different kind of light, motor, and other device in the home and show exactly which ones go on and off, at what times," according to a story posted on the MIT News website.

The result is a system that can give the user highly detailed info about their current electricity usage, as well as letting them zoom in on spikes in the past to see what caused them. The software is sensitive enough to spot when a refrigerator goes into a defrost cycle, for instance.

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