We’ve just tested energy monitors in the Which? lab and found Best Buys from just £35. But is this still too much to spend? Is it worth splashing out on these gadgets or are they a waste of time and money?
The most revealing thing we found in our energy monitor tests is just how different each model is.
While some are designed brilliantly and offer a wealth of handy usage data, on one pricey monitor all you could see was your current usage in watts and an estimated annual cost. This was based on keeping all your appliances on all the time – an irrelevant and fairly useless figure if you ask me.
Monitors don’t benefit everyone
So clearly, some energy monitors will be much better at helping you cut your energy bills than others this winter. But are even the very best performers – our Best Buy energy monitors – worth splashing out on?
I think it depends on how much you’ll use one. An energy monitor itself won’t cut your bills – it relies on you using the information it provides to actively change your behaviour.
When we sent monitors to five Which? members to try out, they had varying degrees of success. Some loved the insight into their usage and changed their behaviour significantly, but others reported that they were already doing pretty much all they could to save energy, so the monitor made little impact (read their full verdicts in our energy monitor user reviews).
It takes time to save money
I have to admit to a little inaction when it comes to energy monitors. I tried one out in my old flat and enjoyed running around turning things on and off and watching the figures jump around. And seeing how much energy the oven used certainly made me think twice about slow roasting!
However, I’ve been in my new flat for just over two months now and still haven’t set up the energy monitor. It’s lazy, but finding out that our electricity meter is in our neighbour’s garden just made it seem like too much hassle…
So is my energy monitor saving me nothing at the moment? Well I have kept the knowledge I gained in round one. Once you understand your energy use, all energy-saving actions can be done without an energy monitor, so hopefully my bills aren’t as high as they could be.
And maybe I’ll plug my energy monitor back in one day. I never really got to grips with the historical data, but our testing has made me keen to try again. Perhaps the long-term benefits of energy monitors – such as being able to log and monitor your usage over weeks and months – make them more worthwhile?