Reduce Energy Use With Smart Home Energy Monitors
More and more homes are making energy efficiency a priority. Not only is it a responsible way to reduce your environmental impact, but it can equate to serious savings on energy bills every month. But what can be done to make your home more efficient? Alongside a home energy audit, a smart home energy monitor is an energy-saving tool that can make a big difference.
What is a smart home energy monitor?
A smart home energy monitor is a gadget that fits onto your home's electrical panel. The unit then monitors energy consumption throughout your home, showing you energy use patterns and even real-time data.
It gives you an accurate picture of the amount of energy that your home uses to help you break down your electric bill. A smart home energy monitor can even give you a baseline of electricity consumption when appliances are not in use, as well as data on how much energy individual appliances use. That can give you the type of specific data on your electricity usage needed to make the proper changes and upgrades within your home.
How does a smart home energy monitor work?
A smart home energy monitoring system is relatively simple. Start by attaching it to your home's breaker box. The device then works by not only monitoring the energy usage throughout the home, but by also identifying the unique energy signature of individual devices and appliances.
Depending on the type of monitor you choose, you can monitor energy levels when those appliances are on, how often they get used, what they cost per month to operate, and more. This gives you a comprehensive look into your electrical usage to help identify ways you can be more energy-efficient. Pairing a smart home energy monitor with other products like smart thermostats and smart plugs can help you take control of your home's day-to-day energy use.
Popular home energy monitor brands
Kitchen monitorMartinPrescott / Getty Images
Some of the most popular brands of home energy monitors include Sense, Eeydro, Efergy, Neurio, Smappee, and Emporia Energy. There are other brands out there too, but these are the biggest names. Below are more details on each one and the systems they offer.
The Sense Energy Monitor offers a simple way to keep track of your power usage. The brand offers both solar and standard variations that plug into just about any existing breaker panel with ease. The cool thing about this system is that it connects to a Sense app that provides real-time energy data whenever you want it.
The Sense will break down energy usage in ways that the average electric bill will not. This allows for a greater, more in-depth look at energy usage like never before. At $299.99, it is a bit on the pricey side, but it is one of the best options out there for detailed, real-time breakdowns of your home's power consumption and even includes goal-setting features and alerts.
The non-solar Eyedro sensors are a bit more cost effective, but there are limitations when compared to Sense. For one, connecting to your Wi-Fi is a lot more challenging as it will require ethernet connectivity or a wireless mesh setup. Additionally, it will not connect to any smart home devices or systems.
Still, Eyedro provides the same simple interface that shows a breakdown in energy output by device for real-time data and energy insights. You can set up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly monitoring reports for a more controlled monitoring experience.
Efergy offers a wide selection of smart home energy monitors. These include online energy monitoring options that allow you track your energy use online and through an app, or systems that include a wireless home display. Efergy systems provide a cost-effective means of monitoring your home's electrical output.
Efergy sensors connect easily to any home electrical box for fast and easy installation that does not require an electrician. The sensor then transmits your energy data to a wireless display or Wi-Fi enabled hub.
The Efergy wireless displays offer a portable, compact interface to help you track your energy use. It can be placed anywhere in the home and uses its large memory to store data that can be observed monthly, weekly, or daily. It even has an audible alert that notifies in the event of excessive electrical usage.
The Neurio smart home energy monitor is another smart device that can monitor energy usage in real time. At $199.99, it is priced similarly to other top-of-the-line devices out there.
The Neurio W1 HEM home energy monitor provides 24/7 access and updates so that you can see the live impact of energy consumption in your home. It also features a simple installation process that takes only 15-20 minutes. The Neurio system could help you identify ways to save up to 20% of your energy use each month.
Smappee offers a top-of-the-line energy monitoring system on par with the Sense home energy monitor. The Smappee Infinity home energy monitor has some very impressive features that make it a great option. In addition to just monitoring your home's power meter, this system can also monitor your gas and water usage. It features smart control with dynamic load balancing.
The system features a modular design so you can add individual components to customize your system to your home. Plus, with the Smappee Switch and Smappee Output Module, you can control your appliances remotely and set up schedules to help lower energy use.
One of the most cost-efficient options, Emporia Energy monitoring systems can provide much of the same functionality and insights at a fraction of the price. The Gen 2 Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor delivers real-time data, alerts, goals, and more through a smart phone app available on iOS and Android devices. Available for $70 on Amazon, this is one of the most affordable whole-home systems out there.
The Emporia Vue app will even provide energy-saving recommendations to help homeowners reduce their energy usage and their carbon emissions each month. The company also offers a wireless Vue Utility Connect monitor, though this system is only available in certain states.
What to look for in a smart home energy monitor
Energy monitorMartinPrescott / Getty Images
There are a few crucial aspects when it comes to choosing the right smart home energy monitor. After all, you are trying to track the energy usage effectively and efficiently in your home. The better the tool, the more effectively that can happen, and the lower your electricity bill and energy consumption.
The most important factors to consider are appliance recognition, real-time cost tracking, mobile apps, solar energy capabilities, and the installation process.
Energy monitoring is great but if you don't know where the issues are it can be difficult to know where to make changes. With appliance recognition, you can track the energy usage in real-time of each individual appliance. This provides a better indication as to which appliances are lagging behind and may need replacing in the near or immediate future.
Real-time cost tracking
Each monitoring system will offer comprehensive tracking reports ranging from daily all the way up to yearly. But the best way to see the energy use impacts of your appliances and devices is through real-time cost tracking.
Understand in clear terms what each device costs to run and which ones may not be doing the most effective job. The great thing about this feature is you can start to see major spikes during the day, which can help you set better energy schedules. This is a highly-effective tool for reducing your energy usage through these monitors.
Access to our appliances and devices through our smart phones is crucial, and easier than ever. When using smart phone applications, users can monitor their home's energy usage live, make adjustments to settings, set alarms, and so much more. Those without apps work can still help you save energy, but don't provide the level of convenience and detail that you can get from those with mobile apps.
Solar energy capable
If you have upgraded your home with solar energy, be sure that you select smart home energy monitors that are capable of tracking how much energy your panels generate. This allows you to better understand the breakdown of your home's energy sources, specifically the ratio of solar vs. electric energy you are consuming.
Using a solar monitoring system can help you use less electricity to reduce your emissions and save you money.
Installation (professional or DIY)
Ease of installation matters as well. The more difficult the installation, the more likely it will require an electrician to do the job. While it is always better to have an electrician handle installation if you are not comfortable working with your electric panel, that is an additional cost. Keep that in mind when making your choice. Ease-of-installation is also important in case you ever want to add additional monitors, or features like smart plugs, to your system.
Benefits of Home Energy Monitoring
There are a few primary benefits to home energy monitoring. The chief among them is identifying areas or appliances that may be trouble spots so you can improve your home's energy efficiency.
This can help you save money on your bills and reduce your home's overall energy consumption. The right changes can equate to a few hundred dollars saved annually, and a smaller carbon footprint.
Ryan Womeldorf is a freelance writer who covers technology and consumer goods, including smart home tech. He is a husband and father of two (five if you count his pups).