How to buy the best energy monitor for you
By Matthew Knight
How to buy the best energy monitor for you
We'll help you to choose the right energy monitor to help you to cut your electricity bill. Find out more about what energy monitors are available.
There are lots of different energy monitors available. From freebies offered by energy companies, to more stylish £30 monitors and snazzy models with extra features that can cost around £100.
Buying an 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.
While all energy monitors offer similar basic functions, some are much better designed than others to help you take action. So in order to make the most of your energy monitor, make sure you choose the right model for your needs.
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Choose the best energy monitor for you
Decide 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).
The quality of information displayed by the monitors we've seen varies from poor to excellent, and some models offer much more useful historical data than others. So make sure the display is easy to read and check what period of time the data will cover.
If you can do without a display completely, you could choose an online compatible option that you can view through your tablet or smartphone.
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 £100.
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 a year – although you could save more than this. 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, it can help you increase your understanding of usage and therefore use less electricity.
Is an energy monitor the same as a smart meter?
No. It’s easy to get confused between energy monitors and smart meters. However, energy monitors and smart meters are very different.
- Smart meters are high-tech electricity and gas meters that will be rolled out to homes across the country at a cost of around £11 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 how much energy you use.
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, by going to what is a smart meter?
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 how much you consume and how much you generate. Where you will need to attach the sensor to do this will depend on your solar set-up.
However, several manufacturers are developing new energy monitors specifically designed to deal with solar technology.
Thinking of installing solar panels? Then read our solar panel reviews.
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.