According to the U.S. Energy Administration, almost 95 million smart energy monitors are installed every year. More than 88% of those are residential.
These devices capture various types of energy use. They provide detailed reports based on certain rooms, outlets, appliances, and overall usage and trends. They also provide a range of benefits, like shifting appliances to energy-saving mode or providing alerts when they use a lot of power.
Smart energy solutions like these can save hundreds of dollars a year on utility bills and help the environment. They come in a range of prices and capabilities though. So, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your home and what features are worth the cost.
The information below is a guide to the many functions that come with different types of smart energy meters. It will help you understand the different benefits and which ones can be most useful in your home.
The Complete Guide to Smart Energy Monitors
Advantages of Smart Energy Monitors
The United States wastes more energy than any other country in the world. If you count transportation along with residential and industrial energy consumption, more than half of it is wasted. That is both bad for the environment and your utility bill.
The first step to reducing or eliminating waste is to know where it is happening. Smart energy monitors help do this by calculating where, how, and when your home is using energy.
Whole-Home vs Plug-in Monitors
There are two main types of home energy monitors. Most you install into your energy meter or breaker box. There are other, more simple ones for individual outlets.
These, also known as “smart plugs,” are simple Wi-Fi devices. They are sufficient for monitoring a handful of appliances, like computers or televisions. They also are economical and easy to install.
Note that you should use smart plugs only with smaller appliances. They are not equipped to handle devices like laundry machines, refrigerators, or water heaters. They also will lack more complex features, like the ability to control appliances.
For more comprehensive monitoring, a whole-home system may be worth the investment. You install these in your breaker box or energy meter. They also use a Wi-Fi signal to transmit data as well.
Whole-home systems will compile information about every room into regular reports. You can view these on a computer or your phone. (It is worth noting that not all systems have an app for your smartphone.) Some monitors can even drill down and give you detailed information on individual appliances and devices.
Within the whole-home category, there are many choices to make. Some are basic and only work with certain energy meters.
The number of breakers you want to hook up to could determine the monitoring system you need. But even the higher-end ones will run no more than about $300.
Technology is ever-changing. Companies like Quality Logic are always developing innovative solutions to greater energy monitoring and efficiency, but it is hard to keep up.
Fortunately, most smart energy monitors on the market have the capability of upgrades. That way, you can stay up-to-date with the latest features. Here are some basic ones you can expect with most monitors.
One big limitation of relying on reports from your energy company is that they give you usage weeks after the energy consumption happens. It is impossible to know much more than the total energy your house used in a given month.
Smart monitors allow real-time tracking of energy usage. The reports and information you receive on these will be far more detailed and user-friendly than those on a utility bill. Some allow you to view usage in watts, amps, or the cost of the energy.
Monitors also will allow you to see how much certain appliances or devices cost to run at different times. This can help identify peaks during the day so you can be more cognizant of wasteful habits.
It can also give you a sense of the efficiency (or inefficiency) of different appliances. This can be useful in determining when you may need to replace older ones.
Reports also can include information that compares your usage to other homes of comparable size. And monitors can even allow you to set energy usage goals.
Alerts and Auto Features
Besides information, there are many functions smart energy monitors perform. You can program them to deliver alerts to your phone, such as when a light has been on for an extended period or a refrigerator door is open.
You can set monitors to know when you leave your home and perform coordinated tasks. These include automatically turning off lights or putting appliances into energy-saving mode.
Smart monitors can turn devices off during set times or after they have been running for a certain period. It is easy to see how this can minimize waste since you don’t have to remember to turn appliances off.
For example, how often do you leave the lights on in a room because you think you’re going to return to it before leaving the house, but don’t? Smart monitors alleviate the stress of having to remember to turn off appliances or devices that you overlook.
You can integrate some monitors with other smart home features, including programmable thermostats. Some work with Alexa or Google Home, so you can use a verbal request to turn a device off or get an energy usage update.
While most smart monitors track energy usage, a small number can be integrated with energy-producing or storage devices. These include solar panel systems and home backup batteries.
Such monitors can provide useful information like peak production or battery capacity.
Most monitors are easy to install, while others might require the expertise of a professional.
If you are uncomfortable working with electrical components or breaker boxes, it may be worth the nominal fee to allow a technician to handle it. This also will ensure that the monitoring device is installed correctly.
Find the Right Smart Monitor for Your Home
Now that you have an idea of how smart energy monitors can help survey and reduce your home’s energy consumption, you can decide which device may be right for your lifestyle and budget. We hope this information was useful to you.
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