The Best Home Energy Monitoring Devices in the Market Today!
Energy consumption across the world and in the US has been rising for the past several decades. Each new device and appliance determines how much energy you spend, and rising energy usage, coupled with ever-increasing energy costs determines how much you pay for electricity each month.
Smart home energy monitors can help you save money and energy. With a device like this, you will be able to change your habits, purchase better appliances and take back control over your monthly bill. Smart home energy monitors measure how much energy you use at any given moment in time and can help you be more aware of your energy habits.
What is a Smart Home Energy Monitor?
Smart home energy monitors are devices that attach to your electrical panel and measure or monitor your energy use in real-time. With a very low error margin, they can track how much electricity you use every single minute and can help you make your home more energy efficient. In turn, your electric bill will be lower, and you will be able to use your solar panels or other sources of energy more efficiently.
A smart home energy monitor goes beyond what smart home devices can usually do. As it tracks power consumption, your home electrical monitoring system can help you reduce your energy use by notifying you whenever there is a spike in energy use. By simply attaching it to your home’s electrical panel, you enable real-time energy monitoring and unlock significant savings.
In most cases, your home energy monitor will come with a proprietary app. This app communicates with the energy monitor and can present you with all the relevant information, including current usage, and monthly energy usage, as well as tracking trends in your energy consumption as you slowly work on the energy efficiency of your home. This device monitors energy before it is sent to your devices, so any losses are also taken into account.
How Does it Work?
Your home energy monitor is a seemingly simple device that connects to your home’s electrical panel. Once there, the energy monitor tracks energy consumption by measuring how much electricity runs through the wiring it is attached to. Let’s be clear here, your home energy monitor does not make contact with the metal wiring at all, but it rather has clamps that you fold over the wiring so that your energy monitor can start tracking energy consumption as it happens.
Depending on the model, you may either get a pair of clamps or several pairs. Since each of these connects to track various usages, you may want to check out the installation guide to ensure that you set it up correctly. Incorrect setups may result in incorrect measurements or no energy usage monitoring at all.
Types of Home Energy Monitors
As we’ve said before, your home energy monitor can either come with a single pair of clamps or more of them. Depending on the number of clamps, we can differentiate between a whole house power monitor and individual outlet monitoring. Whole house monitoring systems are easier to set up and cost less but come at the expense of not being able to monitor individual outlets.
Outlet monitoring devices, on the other hand, cost less and take more time to install (still less than an hour). However, they offer you the possibility to track each individual outlet. Let’s consider these two types of home energy monitors in more detail:
Outlet monitoring is the best type of home energy monitor that you can purchase. It enables you to track energy usage for each power outlet in your home. This type of energy monitor comes with several clamps (some models come with 18 pairs of clamps), each of which monitors a single outlet. If you know which device is connected to which outlet, it will be fairly easy to establish which appliance and device draw on how much power.
Knowing the energy use of individual appliances is the first step to reducing electricity use and your carbon footprint. You will be able to get detailed consumption reports over your easy-to-use app and will be able to make decisions about purchasing smart devices and work on the energy efficiency of your home.
This type of home energy monitor is not to be confused with an energy meter. An energy meter is a device that you plug into your power outlet. Then, a device or appliance is plugged into the monitor itself. It enables you to monitor energy usage in real-time of a single device that is connected to that outlet.
A home energy monitor, on the other hand, connects to the power panel before any other devices do. An outlet monitoring home energy monitor measures the current as it passes through the wires and is never placed between the outlet and the device that you would like to power. It is, however, a much more expensive solution than a simple energy meter – which can often be found for around $20.00.
Whole-House Power Monitors
Whole-house power monitors also track and collect real-time data that you can see in a comprehensive form on the proprietary app. Although this type of home energy monitor does not track energy use for each individual appliance, it can still help you better understand your energy bill and where all that energy has gone.
Energy monitoring of this kind is not the best home energy monitor. As it goes, you may want to consider purchasing a pricier outlet monitor that will let you know which of your appliances uses the most energy. Tracking energy use for the entire house can be inefficient and will not be enough if you want to run a home energy audit or get detailed consumption reports.
Benefits of an Energy Monitor
The best home energy monitor will provide you with many benefits. These do not only relate to your electricity use and price but will also be able to tell you about your energy usage profile and energy habits. This can help you design a better solar system or purchase a different type of energy plan. In any case, you will benefit from installing a smart home energy monitor. Here are some benefits of energy monitors:
- They are easy to install,
- They do not cost too much,
- They do not break down very often as there are no moving parts,
- They enable you to get to know your energy habits,
- They enable you to track energy use in real-time – in much more detail than an electricity meter would,
- The real-time monitoring enables you to choose a better energy plan with a better electricity price during the times of the day when you use the most electricity, and
- They enable you to make better plans for appliance upgrades, especially with real-time costs.
Important Features of a Home Energy Monitor
Needless to say, not all home energy monitor devices are made the same. If you would like a basic device that can tell you about your overall energy use or if you would like smart home and are considering investing in energy monitoring, you will need fundamentally different devices. In addition to this, there are several important features of a home energy monitor that you should consider before making your purchase:
- Solar monitoring,
- Appliance recognition,
- Real-time cost tracking,
- Smart-home compatibility,
- Mobile apps and notifications,
- Voice control,
- Programs and timers, and
- The ease of installation.
The best home energy monitor will have the option of solar monitoring. This is the type of home energy monitor that you should install if you plan on installing a solar array on your home. With solar monitoring, you will be able to see how much power is both produced and consumed in your home. A solar monitoring option will also enable you to track how much overall solar energy is generated and what the peak solar hours are.
Appliance recognition is another important feature to consider. Although considered unnecessary by many, machine learning and similar AI technologies enable your home energy monitor to learn the patterns of energy use by different appliances and send notifications to you whenever individual devices show unusual behavior. An energy monitor with appliance recognition can warn you if:
- You forgot to close the fridge door,
- Have left on your blow dryer,
- Have forgotten to turn off a hot place on your electric stove,
- Have an outdated appliance that may be using more energy than is usual – signaling it may be the time to switch to a more energy-efficient model.
Real-Time Cost Tracking
Real-time cost tracking is another useful feature to consider when purchasing your energy monitor. With real-time cost tracking, you will be able to see how much money you’re giving for individual appliances, for each hour of use. Furthermore, you will be able to see which appliances cost you the most money, so that you may consider purchasing an energy-efficient alternative.
With real-time cost tracking, you will soon notice that the biggest energy users in your household are:
- The electric stove – consider upgrading to a gas stove,
- Your water heater – you can also switch to gas, install solar collectors or a heat pump,
- Your washer and dryer – heat pump and gas models exist and can save you a lot of money, especially in the long run,
- Space heaters – as they use the most electricity and do not provide enough heat, they should be replaced with a heat pump – air-source heat pumps can be connected to most existing heating systems and cost very little compared to the significant savings you can make.
With smart-home compatibility, you will be able to track energy use in real-time and get more details out of reports. As smart-home devices and energy monitors can communicate, you can use them to make significant savings besides being able to make more informed decisions. With this combination, you can benefit from free-electricity periods, off-peak periods, and many more. This way, you will be able to save even more.
Mobile Apps and Notifications
Smart monitors can even connect to your cell phone and send you critical notifications. They can also warn you when a certain event occurs, such as when the electricity usage is at its peak. By simply downloading an app on your cell phone, you can track:
- Real-time data,
- Solar power generation and usage,
- Energy progress to a preset monthly/daily limit,
- Control existing smart home networks,
- Control appliances even when not in the house, and
- Have a better overview of energy use.
Although voice control may not seem the most important feature there is, it is still very useful. If you live in a home with the elderly or kids, you can use voice control on your phone to remotely turn some appliances on or off. This is also a very useful feature to have if your outlets are difficult to reach or you have mobility issues, back pain, and many more. Home monitors with voice control can be connected to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.
Programs and Timers
Programs and timers are often included in your home monitor. Most devices of this kind can help you save energy by slashing vampire energy use whenever you are not at home. However, many other possibilities open up, such as:
- Pre Planned home cooling and heating – kicking in like an hour or so before you enter your house,
- Setting up daily routines – if you wake up at 7 AM, your heating can come on at 6 AM, and at 7 AM, your coffee machine can start brewing coffee for you. The blinds can open and help you wake up as well.
- Slashing vampire use – by turning off entire appliances when you are not around,
- Helping save and increase safety when you are away for a longer time – such as shutting off all appliances and devices when you are on vacation but keeping your AC on, to prevent mold and mildew.
The installation itself is also a big deal for many homeowners. With this in mind, you should consider whether you can do the installation itself or if you need to call a certified electrician to do the installation for you. Smart devices and single appliance monitoring in general can track power use with a very simple system.
However, tracking the energy use of individual devices, being able to set alerts and solar-ready models that can track solar production besides power use may require more skill. In general, the entire installation should not take longer than one hour. If you are tech-savvy, you may be able to do it on your own.
Top Home Energy Monitors in the Market
With all this in mind, making the right decision when choosing your home energy monitor can be a bit of a hassle. With this in mind, we’ve decided to do a review of some of the most popular monitors that can be found on the market today. Here is the breakdown:
Sense energy monitor is one of the best models we have tested. As it is installed in the electrical panel itself, you may want to hire an electrician to do the delicate job for you. During the first month, your Sense energy monitor will be learning about different devices you have in your home, as well as about your usage habits and patterns.
As a whole-house monitoring unit, the Sense energy monitor can signal when appliances have been running for a longer time, as well as when you forget to turn off an appliance. As it connects to your home Wi-Fi, it also enables you to track energy use from a long distance – typically when you are on your holiday. You can also program your Sense home energy monitor to turn off and back on some appliances periodically, effectively reducing how much power you use overall and giving you full control over the free and off-peak electricity rates.
Emporia Vue is another excellent home energy monitor. This device is also best installed by a professional electrician, as it comes with as many as 16 clamps that you should connect to ensure all devices in your home are monitored. If this is not enough, your Emporia Vue can also connect with smart energy meters and smart outlets to give you even more precise reading and control over which appliances work and when they work.
Eyedro is one of the rare models that can also take into consideration your energy rate and provide you with real-time cost information. The energy use and which appliances are on or off and how high your energy bill could be are all automatically updated and sent to your phone. With the appropriate app, you can use Eyedro to get very detailed information, besides only getting two clips (clamps). There are no subscription fees and you can connect the device through an ethernet connection for a more reliable Internet connection and remote information sending.
Curb uses no less than 18 clamps to do the job. A pair goes for the overall monitoring (the mains), and the remaining 8 pairs are used to monitor individual outlets and devices. The device is a bit bigger and you may have difficulties placing all the clamps in place. You should also be aware that having many devices connected to a single branch of energy networks may give a false reading and device recognition.
Neurio has also tried to go for an affordable device. Here, Neurio uses a provided ethernet cable to communicate the data to your Ethernet network. The two clips the device uses monitor overall energy usage and send this data to your phone. Then, the software (the app) on your phone distinguishes the energy use per device. Beware that there are some possibilities for making a mistake here, especially with low-use devices, such as chargers and laptops.
Smappee is the only modular model on our list. As such, it can be scaled up to satisfy all your energy monitoring needs. Affordable and simple to use, the device uses Ethernet to transmit the signal to your phone. You will be able to monitor as few or as many electrical devices as you want, all in real time.
Efergy is an affordable option that lets you track energy use in almost-real time. The device comes with two clips or clamps that you install on the main power supply wiring in the electrical panel and then use to monitor the overall energy use. One novelty of this device is that it does not have an app that comes with it. Rather, it has a separate display, which uses radio waves to communicate with the electrical panel unit. The external unit has a monochromatic display that shows electricity use with 10, 15, or 20-second refresh intervals.
Can I Get a Free Energy Monitor?
Very few energy providers will give you a free energy monitor. For this reason, you should seek online, but first, use our “Important Features of a Home Energy Monitor” to better understand your needs and find the device suited to your needs. As these devices are not cheap, you should always double-check and check online reviews before making your purchase.
What Pulls the Most Energy in a House?
Any kind of heating pulls most energy in a house. This includes space heaters, water heaters, and the stove. Believe it or not, even cooling costs significant amounts of money, especially as the gas that is used to cool the unit has to be boiled and evaporated.
How Much Does a 1-hour Shower Cost?
How much a 1-hour shower cost depends on the cost of water and the cost of electricity in your area. In most cases, you will not pay more than a single dollar per shower. However, multiplied by the number of family members and 30 days in an average month, you’ve got yourself a reason to use solar collectors to heat water.
Why Does the Government Want Us to Have Smart Meters?
Smart meters are excellent devices that prepare the grid for the upcoming wave of prosumers – producers and consumers in a single household. In addition to this, your smart meter will also be able to track down every kWh of energy that is used and ensure that you can save money while your energy provider can reduce their energy losses. Installing a smart meter is a necessary step to modernizing and decarbonizing the US grid.
Investing in an energy monitor is one of the best things that you can do to get to know your energy use and energy habits. Although costly, these amazing devices can help you save money in the long run by pinpointing places to save and devices and appliances that need to be switched. Voice control, digital assistant integrations, and detailed reports on energy consumption are just some of the benefits that you will be able to enjoy by purchasing a smart home energy monitor.