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If you’re looking for ways to cut the cost of your household energy bills, you’ve probably already taken the two key measures that can have the biggest impact – namely comparing the energy market to switch to the cheapest available deal, and adopting energy efficiency measures in your home.
In addition to these measures, you might consider investing in an energy monitor for your household. An energy monitor can give you better visibility of your energy consumption habits, which should make it easier to figure out any behavioural changes you could make in order to reduce your consumption and cut your bills. In fact, according to the Energy Saving Trust, using an energy monitor could cut your bills by 5-15% in the first year of use.
Energy monitors are available either as a plug-in monitor or as a two-part portable monitor. Plug-in monitors are plugged into your wall socket, ready to be connected to any appliance that is normally plugged into the wall socket. As you go about your day, the monitor automatically and continually calculates how much electricity the appliance is using, and how much that usage is costing you. You could use a power strip to measure more than one device at a time.
Two-part ‘whole home’ energy monitors are more convenient as they simultaneously monitor all electricity usage at your home. The portable screen communicates with a transmitter – a separate unit that is clipped directly onto your electricity meter. Together, the devices can tell you how much electricity you’re using in real time, the cost per hour, as well how much carbon dioxide you’re emitting as a result.
It can be more difficult to measure the consumption of individual devices with a whole home energy monitor, although they are more appropriate for devices that do not have plugs – such as alarm systems, lighting, immersion heaters, showers and cookers.
Smart meters are a new kind of energy meter that display your real-time energy usage and automatically submit meter readings to your supplier. On the other hand, energy monitors are simply an addition to your existing energy meter and do not communicate with your supplier nor directly affect your bill. While your supplier can use the reading on a smart meter to create your bill, the data created by your energy monitor is available only to you.
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