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A Buyer’s Guide to Home Energy MonitorsOctober 7th, 2019 by
We all want to use energy efficiently in our homes, and for two good reasons:
- Efficient energy use saves money
- Using less energy helps preserve the resources we all share
Even though we know these benefits, actually implementing energy-conserving habits and tools is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, several tools available on today’s market provide clear guidance on how to limit the amount of electricity you use at home on a daily basis.
You’ve probably heard about making the switch to a smart thermostat and LED light bulbs, but have you considered a home energy monitor? These simple-to-use and relatively inexpensive devices can help you identify—and curb—excessive or unnecessary energy use around your house.
New Ways To Save Energy
It’s important to note that a home has many areas that can often be improved for energy savings. A good place to start is with a home energy audit. The findings of your individual audit will vary, but the most common sources of improvement include the following:
- Windows and doors
- Attic space
- Switches and outlets
- HVAC system
- Water heater
Once you know the areas that waste the highest amounts of energy, you can focus more closely on them by hiring a professional contractor to address air leaks and inefficient equipment.
A quality home energy monitor allows you to monitor your energy use on an ongoing basis to ensure that any repairs or retrofits continue to work.
How a Home Energy Monitor Works
A home energy monitor is a smart device that tells you how much power the various appliances and devices in your house use. This information gives you an in-the-moment view of how much power you’re using, while a longer use of the device allows you to understand trends.
You operate your home energy monitor with three basic steps:
1. Install the monitor
In most cases, the monitor is installed on your home’s circuit breaker. Because electrical work can get complex (and dangerous) quickly, hire a licensed electrician to handle this step. The peace of mind you’ll get from knowing that the job was done correctly is priceless.
2. Allow the monitor to register energy use
Once the monitor is installed on your home’s main electrical panel, it will begin sensing energy use. Most energy monitors on today’s market display data via a mobile app.
3. Read the display
Depending on the monitor you choose, you may have an on-unit display in addition to being able to view data on the app. Typically, the app data will be better organized and displayed in terms of energy used per appliance or the cost per hour of using each appliance.
How a Home Energy Monitor Helps
Technology improves our lives in many ways, and a home energy monitor has the potential to save you money on your utility costs. It can also help you live a greener life, which is important as our natural resources face depletion.
Check out the other benefits of installing a home energy monitor:
1. You’ll have a better idea of how much energy your household uses.
When you pay your monthly power bill, you might take a cursory glance at how many kilowatt hours your family used, but does that number really mean anything to you? Probably not (and no judgment there—you’re certainly not alone)! You pay the bill and move on.
But when you can see exactly how much energy you use on a daily basis—including hourly spikes and dips—and how much money that translates to, the monthly kilowatt-hour figure on your power bill starts to make more sense.
2. It alerts you of wasteful habits.
One of the sneakiest wastes of energy comes when you forget to turn off a light or unplug devices and chargers not in use. Your home energy monitor can help you recognize and change those habits.
3. It can help you make decisions.
Older appliances are usually less efficient than new models. This is sometimes a result of the appliance aging normally, but in many cases, new appliances are simply subject to more stringent energy efficiency standards.
Your home energy monitor can help you see the loss of energy efficiency in your older appliances. If you find an appliance or device costs more to run than you expected, you may wish to replace it. Be sure to always hire a licensed and insured contractor for complicated jobs.
How to Buy the Best Home Energy Monitor
As with any purchasing decision, it pays to do some research and get current information. The options for energy monitors feature many brands that all have pros and cons and come in at different price points.
As you decide on one energy monitor over another, consider the following:
- Do you want to measure the usage of one appliance at a time, or would you prefer to see the entire output of you home? A complete home energy monitor is likely going to be more effective.
- Do you want real-time cost tracking? This allows you to monitor the cost of electrical use in your house minute by minute.
- Do you have solar power? Appliance recognition (including solar devices) also comes with some devices. This feature enables you to understand precisely which appliance is using energy at a given time.
Take a look at the following list of popular home energy monitors to help jumpstart your search:
Home Energy by Sense
This device is installed at the circuit breaker and allows real-time monitoring of consumption. It comes with advanced appliance recognition, which improves over time.
The Sense mobile app provides notifications on the status of each appliance in the home, alerting you to which appliances are running. It also helps you track month-by-month electrical usage and trends. Sense also has a solar add-on option.
The Smappee home energy monitor features appliance recognition and real-time monitoring as well as a robust mobile app. The Smappee system also includes add-ons for monitoring natural gas and water consumption and solar power production. Because installing the Smappee device is relatively involved, you’ll need the help of a licensed electrician.
Engage by Efergy
The Efergy monitor is a user-friendly system that allows you to monitor your home’s energy use via app in real time, down to individual appliances. If you have solar panels, the Efergy system has additional components that can measure how much energy your solar system generates.
Neurio Home Energy Monitor
The Neurio system works with virtually any type of residential electrical panel and helps you see your household’s energy use in detail. If you’re planning to add on to your home or purchase an electric vehicle, take a close look at the Neurio system—it can accommodate subpanel and electric vehicle charger monitoring.
CURB Home Energy Monitoring
The CURB system gives you a variety of insights into your household’s power consumption, allowing you to see whether certain appliances are using more electricity than normal (or necessary).
The CURB monitor has a user-friendly app and also emails weekly reports to help with budgeting for utility costs. This system accommodates and generates data for electric vehicle chargers.
The Bottom Line
With energy efficiency and green living become more entrenched in popular culture, it’s easy to forget that they’re more than just abstract concepts. Being mindful of the power your household uses is part of being a good steward of the planet we all share.
Whether you’re just getting started with green living or you’re looking for additional ways to save energy around your house, a home energy monitor is a fantastic tool. Use our list of popular home energy monitors as a starting point for your search, and be sure to hire an experienced licensed electrician to complete the installation.