Last week was National Baking Week so I made cookies for the team. With this week being Big Energy Saving Week I’ve been pondering how to celebrate – so I got up-close and personal with my energy monitor.
OK, so the thought of eating a cookie might be a little more appealing to most than the prospect of setting up an energy monitor, but bear with me, as I’m going to convince you it’s fun and educational.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, an energy monitor is designed to help you keep track of your electricity use and ideally help you cut your electricity consumption.
Energy monitors usually consist of a handheld display unit, a sensor/clamp that attaches to your electricity wire and a transmitter that sends information from the sensor to the display unit. If you have a smart meter it should pick up readings remotely from your meter
Some energy companies provide free energy monitors to let you keep on top of your energy usage, but you can also buy the devices yourself.
Real-time energy usage
Setting up the monitor part was easy, but I have to confess I was a little fearful attaching the sensor part to an electricity wire at the meter. It was safe to do so on my box as the wire was encased in plastic. But if you find that the wire is frayed or exposed – don’t touch it – you’ll need to call an electrician.
When all the bits are set up you need to add a few details to get the most out of your monitor. I have to confess that I had no idea what I paid per unit of electricity, and although the instruction details told me to check a recent statement, it took quite close analysis of my bill to actually work this out. Our energy experts at Which? have warned me that the unit price doesn’t take into account other costs on your bill, so you need me to take the monitor’s estimated spend with caution.
You need to have the monitor within range of the sensor for it to pick up the readings, but this just takes a few moments of walking about the flat to kick in. Now comes the fun bit – watching the dial fluctuate as you use electricity across the house.
How far will you go?
I imagine they’re quite entertaining for families with children, as it’s a nice visual way of understanding how you use energy and your children can then play a proactive role in monitoring your usage.
And if you’re a big kid like me, you’ll enjoy rushing round the house switching things off to see the usage bar go down, and in the example of my monitor, the smile gauge on the monitor widens. I’d advise against telling your partner that they can’t watch the telly or use the computer so as to not upset the monitor – I’ve learnt these tips are not well received!
My energy monitor is proving to be fun for me as I’m in a fortunate position – I live in an energy efficient flat and therefore my monitor has a permanent smile on its face. But, for those who live in less energy efficient properties, perhaps you’d prefer not to be reminded of the high prices we pay for our energy in the UK?
And maybe my feelings will be short-lived? When we surveyed Which? members last year, only 40% thought their energy monitor had helped them reduce their electricity and 28% thought energy monitors are more hassle than they’re worth.
Do you have an energy monitor and has it changed the way you use electrical devices in your house?