Remember that wincing day in second grade when Hank the dentist asked you to brush your teeth just as well as you could, and you did, and you felt proud, and then he asked you to chew a tablet, and you did, and little purple dots populated your teeth like a raging case of dental chicken pox? You felt pitiful and ashamed, but Hank was thrilled. “See?” he said, “Those purple dots show you all the spots you missed! Information is your friend!”
Electricity Monitors Buyers' Guide
At Energy Circle, we think that knowledge–-specifically, accurate measurement--is the essential first step to making an energy efficient home. The way we see it, monitors are home energy's plaque-detecting tablets. Knowing where and how your home leaks and peaks can result in a nearly instantaneous 20% reduction in energy usage, which translates into an equally snappy reduction in billing. We’ve picked out those that are accurate, durable and install without a fuss. We like tools that pay for themselves, and with very little effort, these do.
Save Electricity & Home Energy with an Energy Monitor, A Smart Meter That Works for You
Electricity monitors provide home owners with hard data of where electricity goes, how efficiently it’s used and what the costs are. Any reputable monitor will give you the information you need to save a fistful of cash. The only question for you is which monitor is going to make the process easiest for you, from ease of installation to accessibility of the data it provides you. Two general categories are monitors that measure on a household basis, and those that measure what you plug into them.
Monitors that Measure Entire Household Usage
Whole house monitors track and display electricity usage in your home directly from your meter or electric panel, and convey that information in multiple useful formats (both over time and in real time) to a small, in-home LCD with a digital display. This display shows usage rates in both kilowatts and dollars and cents, peak consumption in a 24 hour period, time, temperature, signal strength and battery level.
A very good whole house device is the Blue Line PowerCost Monitor. It's the most easily installed--just a simple clamp on the outside of your electric meter--and transmits data to a wireless LCD that displays how much power your house is using and how much that power costs you. We're also huge fans of the TED, aka The Energy Detective. It connects directly to your electric box, and may require an electrician, but is extremely precise and can be paired with software so you can track usage over time.
A constructive tool not only informs, but also motivates. We’ve used monitors to identify the cost of running everything, from energy-eating small appliances to the dehumidifier, and to track down passive leaks and energy drains including plugged in televisions awaiting messages from a remote. Watching the hourly rate drop is its own reward.
Monitors are not replacement meters. They simply translate your meter’s rotations or power source draws to provide you with accessible data. Most utility companies have no problem with tools like these. In the case of the BlueLine, which attaches to the outside of your meter (technically utility property) and does nothing more than record the spinning wheel, double-check that they welcome informed consumers.
Monitors that Measure One By One
If you are looking to determine what the electricity hogs in your home are, consider a monitor designed to measure the amps, kilowatts and dollars of individual appliances. Both the Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Monitor and Watts Up Pro electricity monitor measure energy use in individual appliances, whether they are already in your home, or in the store. (It always feels good to know exactly what you are bringing home). Simply plug the appliance you are testing into the monitor and watch the truth unfold.
Monitors are just the start, but they are a very good start. Choose the one that meets your needs and watch your wallet bulk up. Then listen to the planet sigh with relief.