Energy monitors: How to get the most from your energy monitor
- How to cut your bills using an energy monitor
- Insider tips for getting the best from your monitor
- Tips for using less electricity around the home
Our top five energy monitor tips
Buying a Best Buy energy monitor won’t slash your electricity bills on its own, but it will highlight where you can save money, and show you the instant impact that your energy-saving actions are having. The actual savings are then down to you.
Take a look at our guide to cutting your energy costs, and read our top five tips below to get the most from your energy monitor:
1. Choose the best energy monitor for you
While all energy monitors offer similar basic functions, some are much better designed than others to help you take action. The quality of information displayed by the monitors we tested varied from poor to excellent and some models offer much more useful historical data than others.
In our energy monitor review you can see how more than a dozen different energy monitors scored in a variety of tough tests and see which we rate as Best Buys – these are the top-scoring energy monitors that have proved they can report electricity usage accurately and consistently, as well as presenting the information in a useful way.
Consider one of these for your best chances of cutting your electricity bills, and choose a model with additional features if you think you’ll need them. The features explained section of our review explains which you might want to look out for, including Economy 7 compatibility, ability to download information to a PC and compatibility with individual socket monitors. You can also use our compare features and prices tool to help you find the energy monitor that will best suit your needs.
2. Investigate your energy usage
Once you’ve chosen and set up your energy monitor, you’ll start getting almost instant feedback on your electricity usage. Take this opportunity to play with your new gadget and investigate your energy use thoroughly.
A good way to discover more about your energy use is to turn everything off you can in your home – this will get the reading on the monitor as low as possible. Then walk through all the rooms in your home and try turning different appliances on, watching the monitor reading increase.
This should help you identify which appliances in your home are the most energy-hungry and what effect turning certain things off has on your electricity consumption.
Some energy monitors make this investigation process easier than others. Ones with display units that take batteries are portable, but mains-powered ones must stay plugged in so you’ll have to re-plug it in every room you want to investigate. You can use our compare features and prices tool to find models with battery-powered display units.
Also, some energy monitors offer quicker feedback than others. How frequently the transmitter sends information to the handheld display varies from around every two seconds to every 12 seconds. See full details of each monitor’s frequency of transmission in our energy monitor review.
3. Change your habits
Once you understand where you’re using a lot of electricity, you can identify areas you can save. This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the appliances you need – it’s energy wastage rather than simple usage that you want to cut down.
This means watching out for appliances that are being left on unnecessarily, turning things off standby and making sure all your energy-guzzling appliances are working as efficiently as possible.
The biggest savings are likely to be made by cutting down how often you use energy-hungry appliances and how long you use them for - where possible – including electric heaters and electric showers. If you can, you might also want to consider replacing appliances that use a lot of energy with a more energy efficient version - go to our appliance energy cost calculators to find out just how much common appliances cost to run.
Some energy monitor instructions give estimates on how much you can save by taking certain actions, and you can find plenty of additional advice in our guide how to use less electricity – including tips on using your washing machine, dishwasher, kettle and fridge efficiently and details on how much you could save by switching various items off standby.
It’s true that you don’t need an energy monitor to make any of these changes – but an energy monitor can help you identify which changes will make the biggest difference in your home and will give you almost instant feedback on the effect your changes are having.
4. Get everyone involved
It will be easier to reduce your energy use if you can get your whole household involved in the challenge.
By explaining the energy monitor’s purpose and helping your family (or housemates) understand their energy use, too, they will hopefully be more inclined to reduce their energy wastage where possible.
Most energy monitors are fairly easy to read, so even children can join in – if the usage figure is creeping higher, encourage them to seek out an appliance to turn off.
Some energy monitors allow you to set daily targets for energy usage, and some have high-usage warning alarms – these functions give you something to aim for together.
5. Monitor your energy usage over time
Energy monitors have the potential to be a novelty item that gets neglected once you’ve checked the energy use of all your various appliances. However, they can actually offer even more useful feedback when used over a long period of time.
The quality of historical data offered by different models varies significantly, but most energy monitors we tested offer some kind of historical information.
You can use this information to spot inconsistencies from day-to-day, or week to week. If your energy usage was particularly high on a certain day, question why this was. There may be a simple explanation - like you had relatives visiting or had a mountain of washing to do – but if not there could be energy wastage to investigate.
To fully understand your electricity use patterns it makes sense to keep a note of your weekly or monthly usage – or if your energy monitor allows, download this data to your computer.
It’s also important to read your energy meter regularly (at least quarterly) and provide these readings to your energy supplier. This will ensure you are getting accurate bills, which will be easier to compare with the data your energy monitor is providing.