All You Need To Know About Energy Monitors

All You Need To Know About Energy Monitors

You’ve probably seen a small screen somewhere around a friends house that looks like it’s doing something really useful, but you’re not sure what. Or you know that your parents have got one and you’ve been staggered at just how much they spend on central heating in July. Well, these are energy monitors and the help the user discover exactly how much energy is being used in the home.


What’s The Difference Between These And A Smart Meter?

Energy monitors are designed to be compliment to an existing energy meter, and so if you have a smart meter or prepayment system, they are not suitable, and you shouldn’t really want one because you’ve already got a pretty accurate guage already!

Smart Meters are fairly new and directly communicate with the energy provider so that they no longer have to read the meter to calculate the bill. They are completely accurate and are being used more and more to provide customers with better transparency on their bill and also to encourage more efficient energy usage.

Prepayment Meters not only show an accurate reading but also must be topped up before the energy is used. They are often used in shared accommodation or addresses with bad credit history, but can also assist households in budgeting their energy usage. They are topped up using smartcards, token, keys or even coins.


How Much Could An Energy Monitor Save Me?

The monitor by itself cannot save you anything but it will hopefully make you more aware of the energy you are using in the home. A sudden spike after the heating has been left on, or when all the electrical appliances are plugged in is normally enough to make you think twice about how you use your energy.

According to the Energy Saving Trust this rise in awareness generally accounts for about 5%-15% in annual savings from energy bills, so worth the added focus.


How Do They Work?

Most monitors work by having small device added to the meter and then a secondary screen that displays the usage in real time. They cost between £30-£100 and so can easily pay for themselves within a year (so long as you are taking notice of them!) A few energy suppliers do give these away for free so it’s worth checking if you can apply for one.

Alternatively you can purchase a Plug-In Meter that can monitor individual or multiple devices to give an idea of how much energy they use. They essentially plug in between the mains and the device to monitor the flow.


How Accurate Are The Monitors?

They are pretty accurate in general, but be aware that a monitor that measures what’s called apparent power in amps rather than actual power in watts (this is what you are charged for) will be inaccurate at lower levels and will generally return higher than actual figures.

There are pro’s and con’s to whole home monitors versus plug-in monitors. A home monitor takes into account all devices, including directly wired systems such as alarms, but to find out the usage of a single device is nearly impossible and nearly always inaccurate. A plug-in monitor will give you accuracy of a device, but cannot read directly wired systems at all and so you’ll never know what the total household usage will be


Other Considerations

Features and so therefore cost between alternatives can vary dramatically. The agreed must haves should be;

  • A clear display that shows current energy use
  • Wireless connectivity and flexibility to move around the home
  • Available historical data to review days, weeks and months.


How Else Can I Save Energy?

A monitor is a good step on the way to saving energy but it won’t do it alone even if you are paying attention to the cost. Before installing a monitor make sure that your home is as efficient as it can be through insulation and draught-proofing. Most energy we create is wasted through these two methods so the first step would be to get your home up to scratch before looking to change your behaviour.


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