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Monitor your energy

What Are Energy Monitors — And How Can They Help You Save?

Kimberly Hutchings
March 28, 2024

With recent rises in electricity costs and growing concerns for the health of our planet, it’s no surprise that for many Americans, saving energy (and money) at home has become increasingly top of mind.

But with so many energy-saving tricks at our fingertips today, the question of where to begin can also be pretty overwhelming. Trust us — we’ve been there too!

The good news is, when it comes to cutting back on your consumption, there’s a secret agent on the scene, and it can give you some pretty significant insights into where your energy is going and how much you’re using day to day.

The secret agent we’re talking about? Energy monitors.

Keep reading to find out what they are, why we love them, and how they can help you save.

What Is An Energy Monitor?

If you’ve never heard of an energy monitor before, here’s what you need to know.

Energy monitors are small devices (roughly the size of an iPhone), and they live inside your home’s electrical panel. They monitor the energy use of your entire home and can provide critical insights into how much energy you’re consuming, which devices are drawing more power than others, and how your usage may vary day to day, month to month, and year to year.

The Difference Between Energy Monitors and Smart Meters

Now, you might be thinking, I have a smart meter, isn’t that the same thing?

They’re similar! But there are a few critical differences.

Smart meters are utility-owned devices that monitor your energy use in order to manage grid demand, keep in the know about blackouts, and assist utility companies in providing accurate billing to consumers. To date, there are millions of smart meters installed across America, and many of them also allow consumers to monitor their usage and even control devices remotely through web-based applications. Think of smart meters as the modern-day analog energy meter!

In contrast, energy monitors are consumer-owned devices, meaning they’re not sharing any of the data they collect with your utility provider. They typically collect more detailed insights into your energy consumption than a smart meter, including analytics on the usage of specific appliances, real-time energy data, and the ability to set goals and custom notifications/alerts.

Understanding The Benefits Of Energy Monitors

Energy monitors provide an opportunity for households to cut back on their consumption and save money on their electrical bills by providing a greater awareness and understanding of how energy is being used in the home.

They provide you with minute-by-minute insights so you can see which appliances are hogging the most energy, where you may be consuming unnecessarily, and what habits are contributing the most to your monthly bills.

Essentially, they provide you with the critical data necessary in building a roadmap towards more efficient living — and on average, households will save around 10 percent on their energy spending in the year following installation.

More engaged consumers? They’ve been known to save as much as 20!  

What Should You Consider When Buying An Energy Monitor?

Have we convinced you to join Team Energy Monitor yet? We thought maybe — but what should you consider when investing in an energy monitor of your own?

Well, first off, it's critical to note that while it typically only takes around fifteen minutes to install an energy monitor, it's not exactly a do-it-yourself approach. Because energy monitors are connected directly to your home’s circuitry, there is a shock risk associated with installation, and that means a qualified electrician is required to get the job done.

In terms of purchasing a whole-home energy monitor, the choice is a personal one, and budget is always a factor, but in addition, you may also want to consider which of the varied features are most important to your needs.

For instance, here are three we think are worth considering:

  • Time of Use (ToU) Compatibility: Compatibility with Time of Use (ToU) plans enables your energy monitor to analyze cost in comparison to the time of day, helping you understand what devices *and* what times are costing you the most.
  • Solar Compatability: If you have the ability to power your home off the grid with solar panels, you’ll likely want to look for an energy monitor that can also track solar production in addition to your usage.
  • Appliance Tracking: Not all energy monitors have the machine-learning capabilities to recognize and monitor individual appliances without installing additional sensors — look for this ability if you want to easily identify energy-hogging devices without investing further!

OhmConnect’s 2024 Energy Monitor Recommendations

Ready to get started? We’ve gathered a few of our favorite energy monitor options down below to help get you on the fast track to energy savings!

TOP PICK: Sense Energy Monitor

Cost: $299.00

Why we love it…

  • The Sense Energy Monitor supports Time of Use (ToU) rate plans.
  • Pattern detection allows you to see common threads in your household's energy consumption habits.
  • Machine learning allows you to monitor specific outlets and identify energy-hog devices.
  • You can set custom notifications for critical devices you want to monitor, like a sump pump or curling iron.
  • Real-time data is sent to your iOS or Android device and is available online through web applications.

RUNNER-UP: Eyedro Home Energy Monitor

Cost: $219.00

Why we love it…

  • The Eyedro Home Energy Monitor is capable of monitoring solar and net metering.
  • Machine learning allows you to monitor specific outlets and identify energy-hog devices.
  • Real-time data is sent to your smartphone or computer via MyEyedro.com.
  • Provides bill comparisons and estimates so you can avoid surprises at the end of the month.
  • Captures appliance start-up spikes and alerts you to power or network failures.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Emporia Gen 2 Vue

Cost: $84.99

Why we love it…

  • The Emporia Gen 2 Vue is capable of monitoring solar and net metering.
  • It’s a great budget option for those not looking to spend a lot.
  • Real-time data is sent to your iOS or Android device and is available online through web applications.
  • You can add up to 16 50A sensors to accurately monitor home devices like your furnace, laundry machine, or refrigerator.

Editor’s note: If you make a purchase through our affiliate partner links, we may receive a commission. This does not impact the recommendations we make.

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