You should not wait until your electric bill arrives to determine your energy consumption. The bill only tells you how much energy you use over a given period and for the entire year, but it doesn’t show you how to reduce your usage.
A good energy monitoring system provides real-time data that can help you use less energy by providing more accurate data and usage trends. A home energy monitor can catch inefficiencies, sync with smart-home tools, and even calculate solar system energy production. In addition to monitoring energy use as it occurs, it breaks down the cost of energy into kilowatts, dollars, and cents. Learn exactly where your energy is going by using the best energy monitoring system.
Before You Buy a Home Energy Monitor
In order to choose the best home energy monitor, it is important to determine which type is right for the user. Energy-efficient homeowners may only want to know about a few appliances, while those who want to improve their home’s energy efficiency across the board may prefer a more comprehensive approach.
A smart plug outlet is the easiest way to measure the energy use of an individual outlet. These outlets are best suited for tracking a few “energy hog” appliances rather than everything powered in the home. These smart outlets connect to the home’s Wi-Fi, and the appliance plugs into the smart outlet. By connecting the smart plug to the home’s Wi-Fi, the device uses how much energy.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that smart plug monitors do have limitations. They can’t be used to monitor larger appliances like laundry machines, but they can monitor smaller appliances like hair straighteners and blenders, for example.
Whole-House Power Monitors
A whole-house power monitor, which has sensors that connect to the electrical panel or meter of your home, can help you track your home’s energy use in detail. Based on how each appliance is connected to a circuit, the energy monitor tracks its performance and power consumption.
In a home energy monitor, sensors gather information, and a monitor analyzes it and transmits the information to a computer dashboard or smartphone.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Energy Monitoring System
The best energy monitoring system for each household supplies the information that’s most valuable to the user. It may provide information about a home’s solar system, appliances, or energy usage, enable voice commands, have a simple app, or have an easy installation process. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best home energy monitor.
A solar inverter converts the sun’s energy into alternating current (AC) electricity. These devices track and identify both the energy used and the electricity generated.
A solar home energy monitor uses a home’s utility meter to monitor energy input and output. Some devices compare this data side-by-side and alert the owner if energy consumption or production changes.
A whole-home energy monitoring system connects to a single circuit on an electric panel. Some of these systems provide circuit-specific information, while smarter systems learn the unique electrical signatures of each appliance and track them individually. With appliance-specific recognition, you can track how much energy appliances use, and even get alerts about a fridge door open.
A smart energy monitor can make specific recommendations to reduce energy use based on appliance recognition. Notifications can be sent to unplug a blow dryer, adjust a programmable thermostat, or recommend which appliances need to be upgraded to be more energy-efficient. Instead of tracking all appliances attached to a circuit, it is possible to reduce energy use by tracking the energy consumption of each appliance.
Real-Time Cost Tracking
An electricity bill provides information about how much energy a home uses weeks after it has occurred. By tracking its use in real-time, occupants can act in the moment to reduce waste. In addition to providing information on how much energy a family uses and how much it costs, energy monitors may show current tracking in kilowatt-hours and dollars.
It is possible to uncover behavior and patterns that contribute to energy overuse by tracking in real time and receiving in-the-moment notifications. This information can help identify wasteful electricity sources and correct them. Using real-time cost tracking, you can identify vampire appliances that use electricity while sitting idle and energy hogs, so they can be unplugged, replaced, or used more efficiently.
The smart-home energy monitor connects wirelessly to other devices in the home. The monitor can also communicate and interconnect with other devices that are part of the smart-home ecosystem.
Smart thermostats and smart plugins enable users to control appliances with the press of a button and give a more detailed description of data than other monitors. In addition to showing energy use on a real-time basis, these models identify patterns and calculate operating costs for your home.
Mobile Apps and Notifications
It is no longer necessary to read meters or visit an electrical panel once a home energy monitor is installed. Many systems connect home energy data to a smartphone, providing instant updates about energy usage. The apps are intuitive and visual, so it is easy to understand what’s happening with a home’s energy and identify areas for improvement.
Home energy monitors often come with an app with a dashboard that lets you see usage, trends, and more. You can set up alerts within the app to keep you informed about critical usage events, peak use times, energy waste, and other analytics. In some cases, the app can review and initiate action items remotely.
It is possible to use Alexa and Google Assistant with some whole-home and smart-plug energy tracking outlets. In addition to giving users hands-free capabilities, synchronizing the monitor to these digital assistants also enables easy access to outlets that are difficult to reach for the elderly, those with mobility issues, or those living in remote areas.
Smart systems enable users to use voice commands to initiate energy-saving actions, such as turning off appliances with a verbal request, rather than logging into an app dashboard.
Programs and Timers
The following examples of home energy monitor programming possibilities will show you how to save energy in the home. Each home energy monitor has a program to manage technology and energy.
- A smart system can be programmed so that the house will automatically heat up, the lights will come on, and the coffee maker will start when an alarm sounds.
- It is possible to program appliances to turn off or switch to energy-saving mode when the user leaves the house.
- If goal setting is important, the user can find a home energy monitor to stay on track to reach those energy-saving goals. It is possible for the user to set alerts to remind him or her to turn off specific appliances.
A timer prevents vampire appliances from drawing energy and minimizes energy waste. Users can set it to turn off outlets after a specified period of time.
An energy monitor for individual appliances plugs into a wall socket. Simply plug it into the electric socket and plug in the appliance.
There is more complexity involved with installing a whole-home energy monitor inside or on a wall. Monitors typically include sensors that clip onto individual circuits and a small unit that analyzes the data. A home energy monitor’s choice can be influenced by the number of individual circuits to be monitored.
The device should be up and running within an hour of being installed. If you are unsure about how to install it, you might want to hire a professional. Once the hardware is installed, you can connect the device to your home’s Wi-Fi.
Our Top Picks
It is important to consider a person’s needs and preferences when choosing the best energy monitoring system. These top picks take into account various requirements and situations.
Best Energy Monitoring System
1. Sense Energy Monitor
You can use Sense’s whole-house energy monitoring system for regular, smart, or solar-powered homes. Machine learning allows it to identify individual devices over time and inform users of which devices are running so they can make more informed and efficient choices. Monitor what’s happening even while away on vacation by learning about historical use, identifying patterns, setting goals to reduce energy use, identifying waste, and identifying waste.
Connect this monitor to a smart assistant to update and adjust energy usage with voice commands. Using an app, you can set up customized notifications to tell you how long a device has been running, whether an appliance has been turned off, and more when you enter peak consumption zones.
An electrician will probably be best suited to install this energy monitor inside an electrical panel, which can be integrated with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other technologies.
- Whole-house energy tracker
- Customized notifications for critical-use problems
- Tracks when lights are left on or dryer turns off
- Slow to detect devices in the first month
2. TOPGREENER Smart Outlet with Energy Monitoring
It’s easier to monitor energy usage of individual outlets using this TOPGREENER Wi-Fi outlet than to install a whole-home system. This plug can handle heavy-duty energy loads, so it’s compatible with multiple appliances.
A user can remotely control appliances, set up timers and schedules, monitor energy use, etc., using the phone app. You can use Alexa or other virtual assistants to control the smart plug and complete actionable steps by asking them to do so. It is as simple as plugging the smart outlet into the wall and plugging in the appliance.
- Single outlet Wi-Fi monitor
- Use app to control the monitor
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Handles up to 1,800 watts and 15 amps
- Collects and stores a lot of personal information
- Needs manual reset if power is disrupted
3. BN-LINK WiFi Heavy-Duty Smart Plug Outlet
It is possible for two smart outlets to stack on top of each other without any issue with BN-LINK’s Wi-Fi smart outlets. You can manually control the outlet with a power button, or you can use the Smart Life app to monitor its power usage, set up automatic timers, or schedule a coffee maker.
You can name smart outlets based on the appliances they are plugged into and use voice commands to control them using Alexa or Google Assistant. Smart outlets are installed easily; plug them into the wall, plug appliances into them, and connect them with a secure Wi-Fi connection.
- Four-pack of individual outlet monitors
- Voice activation and app control available
- Customizable timer function
- Must be reset if Wi-Fi or power is interrupted
- Collects and stores a lot of personal information
4. EMPORIA ENERGY Gen 2 Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor
You can get up-to-date energy cost and usage data anytime and anywhere with EMPORIA ENERGY’s Gen 2 monitor. Despite the fact that they come with DIY instructions, 16 sensors are attached to the main and individual circuits in the breaker box, which should be done by a professional.
It monitors large appliances connected to individual circuits, but can also control smaller appliances through EMPORIA ENERGY’s app and integrate with smart plugs (not included).
This app shows how much excess energy goes back to the grid versus how much energy the home consumes. Based on the data it gathers, the app sends notifications, so users know what steps to take to conserve energy and control costs.
- Eight sensors included, but eight more can be purchased
- Solar generation net metering capabilities
- Customizable push notifications
- Data collected and stored on cloud, not your own device
- Difficult to retrieve extra data if desired
5. Sense Energy Monitor with Solar
As part of the Sense Energy Monitor with Solar dashboard, built-in cost calculations are available to compare energy produced and energy consumed in a side-by-side fashion, allowing you to reduce the amount of electricity purchased. As the monitor is plugged in for a long time, it learns how to use energy more efficiently, which leads to better energy use.
The Sense monitor identifies individual appliances and offers information about specific devices: when they’re on, how efficient they are, vampire tendencies, and more. The energy monitor sends notifications about potential issues, including solar system alerts. By installing Sense inside an electrical panel, a certified electrician can connect the home to a smartphone.
- Whole-house energy monitoring system
- Tracks solar generation and output
- Customizable notifications
- No ethernet port option
- Slow to identify devices
6. Eyedro Home Energy Monitor
This Eyedro home energy monitor lets you see real-time energy costs. Through the provided Ethernet cable, its sensors feed information to an online dashboard, but you can also use Wi-Fi to monitor energy usage. You can log in to Eyedro’s website to see energy usage at any time, even when you’re away.
A phone or computer screen displays the change in energy consumption as appliances are turned on and off. Access monitoring reports and bill estimates and receive alerts if power is out at home and communication is lost through the dashboard. Using the included instructions, you can install this energy monitoring system in under 15 minutes.
- Ethernet connection option for reliable internet
- Plenty of data options to review
- No subscription fees
- Only two monitoring clips
- Poor installation can cause inaccurate readings
How We Choose the Best Home Energy Monitors
It is possible to monitor an entire house, a single circuit, or a single outlet with these recommendations for best energy monitoring systems. For homeowners with an energy-efficient home who want to monitor a few devices or those who need total monitoring, that versatility is helpful.
Our selection of home energy monitors covers a wide range of price points. Ease of use and accurate tracking are important aspects of home energy monitors, so we included apps and voice-activated controls.
A few units can also monitor solar generation and output, which can also be useful to some homeowners. We narrowed our research to include mainly Wi-Fi options, but there are also ethernet connections if you prefer a more steady connection.
If you’re looking for the right energy monitor for your home, here are some questions and answers you should know.
Q. How do energy monitors work?
It transmits this information to a smartphone or computer so that you can see how much energy is used by an individual circuit. Sensors clip to individual circuits in the electrical panel, measuring how much energy is used by that circuit.
Q. How accurate are energy monitors?
The accuracy of home energy monitors is fairly good. A quality energy monitor can estimate usage within one percent of the actual amount.
Q. Do smart plugs waste electricity?
It takes about one watt to power a smart plug when it is in standby mode, but the amount of energy they save by limiting power to plugged-in devices outweighs the amount of energy they consume.
The Sense Energy Monitor is our top choice for monitoring an entire home’s energy usage. For monitoring specific appliances or outlets, the BN-LINK Smart Plug is our top choice.