Ever looked around at all your electrical devices and wondered which one uses the most energy?
Or wondered what the difference is between switching your television off at the wall and leaving it on standby?
Want to cut the cost of your electricity bills?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, what you need is a home energy monitor.
A ‘whole home’ energy monitor is made up of three units:
You can also get more basic plug-in monitors for measuring the energy used by individual appliances – but only if they plug into a wall socket.
Your energy monitor should show you how much energy you’re using, how much it costs, and the level of your greenhouse gas emissions.
The best energy monitors let you walk round your house switching items on and off, to see how much energy each electrical device or appliance uses.
It can also show you how much your energy is costing you, and how much you’re saving once you start using your energy more efficiently.
Some models allow you to set daily electricity use targets or have alarms to let you know when you’ve reached a certain level of use.
The energy monitor itself can’t actually save you money; it’s the way you use it that counts.
It can help you to understand how much energy you’re using, which appliances are costing you most, and how much you could save by switching things off or using them less.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, using an energy monitor could reduce your energy use by 5% - 15% in just a year. So if your annual electricity bill is £600, you could save between £30 and £90.
Once you’ve installed your home energy monitor, it’s fun to try it out at once. Go round your home and switch off everything you can – though probably not the fridge and freezer.
Then walk around each room holding your energy monitor, and switch things back on as you go. If your model has a battery-powered hand-held unit, you can walk around freely. If it only works off the mains, you’ll need to plug it in and unplug it as you move from room to room.
You’ll see the monitor reading increase when you switch on a new appliance. Some models will transmit this information in a couple of seconds, others may take up to 12 seconds, so make sure you wait long enough.
It’s a great way to find out which appliances or rooms are costing you most, and some of your discoveries could be quite a shock.
Write down what you’re finding out, so you can use the information to help you make cost-cutting decisions.
Most importantly, when you’ve done this, don’t just put your home energy monitor away and forget about it. You need to get into the habit of using it regularly, to make sure you don’t slip back into expensive habits. Get the whole family into the habit of checking their electricity use and switching off to save energy.
Some are more accurate than others. Choose one that measures actual power, shown in watts, rather than one that only measures apparent power, in volt-amps.
If a monitor only measures apparent power, it will be less accurate when it’s trying to gauge small amounts of consumption – less than 100 watts, for example, and particularly at less than 60 watts.
Your provider will charge you for actual power, measured in kilowatt hours, so it’s better to know how much actual power you’re using.
Find out more about kilowatt hours here
If you want to measure the amount of energy used by individual appliances that are plugged into a wall socket, you could get more accurate readings with a plug-in monitor (see next question). However, ‘whole home’ energy monitors can measure devices that don’t have plugs – like lights, burglar alarms or showers – although it can’t measure them individually.
A plug-in monitor is a more basic device that only measures the energy use of one appliance at a time. You simply plug it in between the appliance’s own plug and the electric socket. It can then tell you how much energy that individual item is using.
If you want to find out how much energy a group of appliances is using, such as a laptop, router and printer, you can plug a multi-socket adaptor or extension lead into the monitor.
Yes – you don’t need to be a qualified electrician. For most models, you’ll just need to attach the sensor unit to your meter and then tune the transmitter and hand-held unit so they can communicate with each other.
No – the figures it shows are purely for your information. If you have an agreement to give your provider regular meter readings, you’ll still need to do this.
That’s one of the reasons why at OVO we recommend using a Smart Meter rather than an energy monitor. It shares information about your energy use with us, saving you the effort of giving us regular meter readings.
There are all kinds of energy monitors available, from very basic cheap plug-in ones to highly sophisticated expensive versions, so it makes sense to have a look at as many as possible before you buy one.
The best energy monitors will include:
You should expect to pay from around £28 for a very basic model to £150 for a high-tech device that could also tell you how much energy your solar panels are producing.
Yes – a few suppliers do offer free energy monitors, but you should carefully check the cost of the related tariff against the value of the free monitor, as it may not turn out to be much of a benefit in the long term.
We don’t offer free energy monitors at OVO, because we believe our Smart Meters, with their In-Home Displays, offer the same information but with extra benefits. So if you’re an OVO customer and you want to monitor your energy use, just get in touch to ask us if you can upgrade to a Smart Meter.
If your home energy monitor has convinced you to cut down your energy use, here are some ideas:
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1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
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