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Should I Install a Home Energy Monitoring System?

A small home energy monitor interface device sits on a wooden table with a coffee mug and a person's hand resting in the background

If you’re trying to save energy at home, it can be challenging to pinpoint what devices and appliances waste electricity.

Even if you turn off the lights, adjust your thermostat and use power strips, you may surpass your energy spending goals.

While your electric cooperative is always covering ways you can save on your energy bill, it's great to know which devices use the most electricity and how to manage them.

Thankfully, modern conveniences make measuring and gathering info easier than ever. One way tech-savvy homeowners gain new insights on their electricity usage is through home energy monitors. 

But, how do these systems work and are they right for you? 

What Is a Home Energy Monitor?

A (Short) History in Electricity Metering

Measuring electricity usage isn't a new concept and has gradually evolved over the past two centuries. 

During an experiment in the late 1800s, Oliver B. Shallenberger discovered that rotating electric fields could cause a spring to turn, which led him to add a series of wheels to record the number of rotations.

Today's electric meter is a direct result of the Shallenberger meter developed over 100 years ago. 

While your local electric cooperative’s meter outside your home can show the total amount of electricity used in a given period, they don’t show you where your energy is going.

Modern Home Energy Monitors

A modern home energy monitor is a device that uses sensors to collect energy usage data and a central hub that processes this information and sends it to a digital dashboard.

Many whole-home energy monitors fit inside your breaker box. You, or a certified electrician, can connect the sensors to the electrical mains in the breaker box. These sensors measure the amount of energy used in each circuit. 

Outside of the physical interface, home energy monitors have an online portal or app, allowing you to enter other information to get a better picture of your electricity use. 

Remember, most monitoring systems require wifi or an ethernet connection. It's essential to review the list of features included with and the compatibility requirements of any system prior to purchase and use.

What Are Some Features and Benefits of a Home Energy Monitor?

  • Regular energy usage reports are essential to all monitoring systems. These reports assign the amount of energy used by specific appliances along with the estimated cost to operate them throughout the year.
  • Remote monitoring- If you use your smartphone, tablet or computer to see your home's energy usage, you can see what’s running while you're away from your house.
  • Unusual activity monitoring- Some systems will send you an alert if there’s an unusual activity from a specific appliance that could threaten your home.
  • Cost of electricity- Depending on the system you choose, your home energy monitor can give you a real-time estimate of how much it costs to power an appliance.

This knowledge can help you make more energy-efficient decisions, but a full-home monitoring system may not be for everyone. 

Bottom Line: What Should I Do?

When you're considering purchasing and installing a home energy monitoring system, you need to ask yourself, "am I willing to take actions based on this data to save energy?"

If you're reading our content, we're guessing you want to find ways to save energy and make your home more efficient. These systems are great for providing data, but they alone won't save energy. 

If you're ready to adjust your energy usage, have a compatible electrical configuration and the required components to connect to your device, the upfront costs of a home energy monitoring system may be worth it to you.

If you're on the fence about purchasing a home energy monitoring system, that's okay. Check out our list of top tips for saving energy at home.

For more advice on energy-saving tech and ways you can save on your electric bill, check out our blog.

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