An energy/electricity usage monitor is a valuable low cost piece of technology allowing you to monitor your energy consumption and make behaviour changes to prevent energy waste and save money on your bills.
Instead of flying blind and switching off all appliances or lights, an energy usage monitor shows you when and where the power is going to waste.
It gives you the insight to help you identify opportunities for reducing electricity usage.
But do electricity usage monitors work, and how do they compare to smart meters?
Read on to find out and discover their advantages, disadvantages, costs, how much you can save, and recommended models.
Do Electricity Usage Monitors Work?
Electricity usage monitors give you real-time and historical electricity usage information to help you identify when and how you’re using power.
Some models also analyse usage patterns and detect the appliances straining your energy bill.
The power your electronics or appliances use at home is measured in watts, and a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the standard measurement for electricity usage.
Power suppliers charge a per-kWh rate to determine how much you should pay monthly.
Unawareness or ignorance is a significant contributor to rising electricity bills. Knowing household appliances’ energy consumption allows you to take appropriate actions for energy conservation.
Studies show that using electricity usage monitors effectively reduces daily energy consumption by up to 15.88%.
Electricity Usage Monitors vs Smart Meters
Smart meters are modernised versions of standard meters and can help measure your electricity and gas usage.
They’re used to monitor your meter readings submitted to your electricity or gas supplier to ensure accurate readings.
Smart meters usually feature a private communication network that helps you submit the electricity and gas tracking to suppliers.
Energy monitors are only a complement to energy meters and not a substitute.
Electricity usage monitors can only measure electricity usage and don’t send usage information to your energy supplier.
When you get a smart meter installed in the UK, you’ll receive a small portable device that shows your energy usage. It’s often called a smart energy monitor or in-home display (IHD).
Advantages of Electricity Usage Monitors
Electricity usage monitors provide valuable data that can help you save electricity and electricity costs.
Some advantages include:
Instead of waiting for an electricity bill or meter reading, electricity usage monitors allow you to see how much power an appliance uses on the spot.
It can help you track hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly electricity usage and guide you in implementing changes to usage habits.
Identify Power-hungry Devices or Equipment
Using an electricity usage monitor, you can locate devices or systems that consume high amounts of power.
Such data can help you decide which devices to turn off to keep power consumption in check.
It can help you raise awareness among family members to change their behaviour and reduce unnecessary usage.
Track Peak and Off-Peak Usage
If you live in areas with time-of-use (TOU) rates, you’ll pay different rates per kilowatt-hour depending on the time of day, season, and whether it’s a weekday or weekend.
Using an electricity usage monitor, you can learn the cheapest times to use your appliances or devices by tracking peak and off-peak usage.
Eliminate Phantom Loads
Phantom loads involve passive power consumption where devices plugged into outlets consume power even when they’re not in use.
Phantom loads often go unnoticed, but you can uncover them with an electricity usage monitor and eliminate their contribution to your electricity bill. Phantom loads can result from:
- Televisions with standby lights.
- Desk lamps with glowing power buttons.
- Clocks on microwaves and ovens.
- Cell phone charges connected to power when not in use.
Appliances and devices don’t generate high phantom loads individually, but when combined, it can result in high electricity bills.
Some phantom power consumption serves a purpose, like helping devices retain memory settings or clock accuracy, but you should unplug anything non-essential.
Disadvantages of Electricity Usage Monitors
Using an electricity usage monitor will not automatically reduce your energy use and save on electricity bills.
It only acts as a guide, and you must proactively implement changes to your energy habits.
If your monitor only measures apparent power, it can be less accurate at lower consumption levels.
Additionally, most electricity usage monitors can’t measure the usage of devices that don’t have plugs, such as immersion heaters, alarm systems, lighting circuits, cookers, showers, or other appliances wired directly.
How Much Do Electricity Usage Monitors Cost?
Most electricity usage monitors are affordable and widely available.
Depending on the model, features, and functionality, they can cost anywhere from £30 to £100.
Some energy suppliers provide free electricity usage monitors, but it’s usually an incentive to sign up for their tariff, which may not be the cheapest deal.
Plug-in electricity usage monitors are likely the cheapest option available.
You plug the monitor into the mains power source and then plug the device or appliance into the monitor.
How Much Can You Save With An Electricity Usage Monitor?
An electricity usage monitor will not directly save any energy.
Instead, it will make you aware of how much electricity you use so you can change your energy usage habits and save on electricity bills.
A usage monitor provides more clarity on which appliances or devices use the most power and where and when to make changes.
According to NI Direct, consumers can save 5-15% on their electricity bills in the first year of owning a monitor translating to around £25 to £75 on £500 bills.
1. Sense Energy Monitor – Very advanced model with innovative AI learning technology for the most accurate appliance data possible. Measures in kWh, cents, and dollars, has WiFi connectivity and supports iOS, Android, and web monitoring.
2. Efergy Wireless Electricity Monitor – Portable, user-friendly, and easy to install. It gives you all the data you need on energy usage on the monitor screen and measures in kWh, cents, and dollars.
3. Emporia Smart Home Energy Monitor – Gives you the best value and measures in kWh, cents, and dollars, can connect to WiFi, and supports web, iOS, and Android monitoring.
Smart Energy Monitors Final Thoughts
Monitoring your electricity usage at home is highly recommended if you’re thinking about cutting down your monthly power bills.
It will help you keep an eye on your energy-consuming habits and make the necessary changes to reduce costs.