Energy monitors

How to buy the best energy monitor for you

  • Choose the best energy monitor for you
  • How much do you need to spend on a good energy monitor?
  • What you can save on your bills with an energy monitor?

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 if you think that an energy monitor will help you cut your bills, here is a guide to getting the right one for you.

1. Choose the best energy monitor for you

Energy Monitors

There are a variety of different energy monitors to chose from

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.

You will need to make a selection based on whether you would like a static or battery-operated portable in-home display (so you can keep it in the most convenient room in your house). Or, indeed, if you can do without a display completely and choose an online compatible option that you can view through your tablet or smartphone.

In our energy monitor reviews you can see how almost twenty different energy monitors scored in a variety of tough tests and see which we rate as Best Buys.

Get a Best Buy energy monitor for your best chance 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 what you might want to look out for, including Economy 7 compatibility, ability to download information to a PC and online compatibility. 

You can also use our compare features and prices tool to help you find the energy monitor that will best suit your needs.  

2. How much do I need to spend on an energy monitor?

Energy monitors are now available for ‘free’ from all of the big six energy suppliers and many smaller suppliers, too. However, you need to be careful that the monitor is in fact ‘free’ and you are not being indirectly charged for your monitor through a higher or less competitive tariff. 

If your energy supplier does not offer a free monitor, or you would prefer to pay for one and save yourself the hassle of switching suppliers or tariffs; paid for monitors are available for £30 to £150. Read our energy monitor reviews to select the best one for you.

3. How much money can an energy monitor save me?

Small-scale trials have revealed that, used correctly, an accurate energy monitor can save you between £25 and £75 from a £500 annual bill – although you could save more than this. As such you will need to seriously consider the cost of your monitor against what can realistically be saved over a given period. 

While you don’t necessarily need an energy monitor to cut your bills, 72% of our members who own an energy monitor say it has increased their understanding of usage and 48% agree that it has helped them to use less electricity. So many consumers clearly see the value in having one.

4. Is an energy monitor the same as a smart meter?

No. It’s easy to get confused between energy monitors and smart meters, and many consumers think they are the same thing. However, energy monitors and smart meters are very different.

  • Smart meters are high-tech electricity and gas meters that the government wants to roll out to homes across the country at a cost of around £10 billion. They will replace your existing meter, measure your exact gas and electricity use, and send all the information back to your energy supplier – meaning no more estimated bills.
  • Energy monitors show you the amount of electricity you are using and are designed to help you keep track of your energy usage.

Smart meters are likely to come with separate handheld display units, which look like energy monitors but are more accurate. You can find out more about the differences between smart meters and energy monitors, and see a video of both devices in action, in our smart meters and energy monitors explained guide.

5. Can I use an energy monitor if I have solar panels?

Most energy monitors are not able to deal with energy generated by solar panels as they are unable to calculate your net usage based on energy consumed, energy generated and energy fed back to the grid.
Most will just be able to measure your consumption or your generation - and where you will need to attach the sensor to do this will depend on your solar setup.

However, several manufacturers, including Green Energy Options, are developing new energy monitors specifically designed to deal with solar technology. We hope to test these when they become available – if you have solar panels, it may be waiting until these are launched before buying an energy monitor.

If you're thinking of buying solar panels, see our full guide to solar panels.

6. Can I monitor gas usage as well?

Most energy monitors only show you how much electricity you are using, but the Saveometer from Eco1 Limited promises to monitor your gas usage too (if you buy an additional gas transmitter). It's one of a few energy monitors we've seen that offers this function. 

We haven't tested the gas transmitter, but you can find out how well the main electricity monitor scored in our Saveometer review.

More on this...
• Compare prices and switch to cheap gas and electricity
• Save money on energy with a Best Buy lightbulb
• Cut your bills with our guide to buying energy saving products
Share, bookmark or subscribe