Don’t wait until the electric bill arrives to find out how much energy you use. The bill shows only your total energy usage for the statement period and your overall totals for the year. It doesn’t pinpoint how and where you can reduce your energy consumption.
The best home energy monitor offers real-time information that provides more precise data and usage trends that can help you use less energy. A home energy monitor can catch inefficiencies, sync with smart-home tools, and even calculate solar system energy production. It monitors energy use as it occurs and breaks down the energy spent in kilowatts and even dollars and cents. Stop wondering why your electricity bill is so high, and use the best home energy monitor to know exactly where the energy goes.
- BEST OVERALL: Sense Energy Monitor
- RUNNER-UP: EMPORIA ENERGY Gen 2 Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TOPGREENER Smart Outlet with Energy Monitoring
- BEST SMART PLUG: BN-LINK WiFi Heavy Duty Smart Plug Outlet
- BEST WITH SOLAR: Sense Energy Monitor with Solar
- ALSO CONSIDER: Eyedro Home Energy Monitor
Types of Home Energy Monitors
The first step when purchasing the best home energy monitor is determining which type is best for the user’s needs. Occupants of energy-efficient homes might desire information about only one or two appliances, while those looking to implement energy improvements across the entire home may want a more thorough option.
A smart plug outlet is the easiest way to measure the energy use of an individual outlet. These are best suited to track a few “energy hog” appliances rather than everything powered in the home. Easy to use, these outlets plug into the wall socket, and the appliance plugs into the smart outlet. Linking the smart plug to the home’s Wi-Fi shows the amount of energy the device uses.
However, smart plug monitors have limitations. They’re not intended for larger appliances, such as laundry machines; instead, they work with smaller appliances, like a blender or hair straightener.
Whole-House Power Monitors
For a detailed account of energy use throughout the home, consider a whole-house power monitor, which has sensors that connect to the home’s electrical panel or meter. The energy monitor tracks the performance and power consumption of each appliance based on its connection to an individual circuit.
The sensors gather information, and the monitor analyzes the data and transmits insights or notifications to a phone or computer dashboard. When linked to Wi-Fi, home energy monitors provide details on energy use and cost in real time.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Home Energy Monitor
The best home energy monitor for each household supplies the information that’s the most valuable to the user. A monitor might include energy details on a home’s solar system or appliance-specific information, enable voice commands, have an easy-to-use app, or offer easy installation. Some key features to consider when selecting the best home energy monitor follow.
Home solar systems can lower an electric bill by using a solar inverter to transform energy from the sun into alternating current (AC) electricity. These devices track both the energy used and the energy generated and can identify times of peak solar power.
Solar home energy monitors connect to a home’s utility meter to discover and track patterns in energy input and output. Some devices show a side-by-side comparison of this data and send the owner notifications if they detect changes in the amount of energy consumed or produced.
Whole-home energy monitoring systems plug into individual circuits on the electrical panel. Some of these systems offer circuit-specific details, but smarter systems learn the unique electrical signatures of each appliance and track them individually. Appliance-specific recognition pinpoints the energy use of appliances big and small, and some can even create alerts about details such as an open fridge door.
Appliance recognition allows energy monitors to make more specific recommendations to reduce energy. They can send notifications to unplug a blow dryer, adjust a programmable thermostat, or advise which appliances need to be upgraded to a more energy-efficient model. Tracking the energy consumption of each appliance rather than all the appliances attached to a circuit provides specific actions to reduce energy use.
Real-Time Cost Tracking
The electricity bill is a record of how much energy a home uses weeks after the usage occurs. Tracking how energy gets used in real time enables the home’s occupants to act in the moment to minimize energy waste. Energy monitors may show current tracking in kilowatt-hours and dollars, providing information as to how much energy a family is using and what it costs them.
Tracking in real time and receiving in-the-moment notifications can unearth behavior and patterns that contribute to energy overuse. This information helps discover the sources of wasted electricity and correct them. A benefit of real-time cost tracking is locating “vampire” appliances that draw electricity in standby mode and energy hog appliances, so they can be unplugged, replaced, or used more efficiently.
Even smart homes benefit from a home energy monitor. Smart-home energy monitors fit into the home’s electrical panel and connect wirelessly to other devices in the home. A WiFi-and Bluetooth-enabled home monitor can communicate and interact with other smart-home devices.
Linking the energy monitor to a smart thermostat or smart plugin gives a more detailed description of data than what’s available from other monitors and enables users to operate appliances with the press of a button. These models show up-to-the-second energy use in the home, identify patterns, calculate the costs of operation, and more.
Mobile Apps and Notifications
Once the device is installed, home energy monitors negate the need to read meters or visit the electrical panel. Many systems connect home energy information to a smartphone to deliver instant updates about energy usage. These apps are visual and user-friendly, making it easy to understand what’s happening with a home’s energy and identify areas that need improvement.
Many home energy monitors have a downloadable app with a dashboard that tracks usage, trends, and more from a phone or computer. In some cases, the app can review and initiate action items from remote locations. Set up notifications within the app to let you learn about critical use events, peak usage times, when energy is being wasted, and other analytics.
Some whole-home and smart-plug energy tracking outlets are compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. Syncing the monitor to these digital assistants gives users hands-free capabilities, which is a major perk for the elderly, those with mobility issues, or for areas where an outlet is difficult to reach.
Instead of logging into an app dashboard to look up energy usage details, a digital assistant can give a quick update instead. Smart systems enable use of voice commands to activate energy-saving tasks, such as turning off appliances with a verbal request.
Programs and Timers
Individualized programs can save energy in the home. Each home energy monitor has a program to manage technology and energy. Some examples of home energy monitor programming possibilities include the following:
- The user can program smart systems so that when an alarm goes off, the house heats up, the lights come on, and the coffee maker automatically starts.
- When leaving home, the user can program appliances to turn off or go into energy-saving mode.
- If goal setting is important, the user can find a home energy monitor to stay on track to reach those energy-saving goals.
The user can set alerts as a reminder to turn off specific devices.
Timers help minimize energy waste. Users can program them so outlets turn off after a specific amount of time and prevent vampire appliances from drawing energy.
Basic plug-in monitors that measure the energy from individual appliances plug into a wall socket. Simply plug it into an electric socket and plug an appliance into the monitor.
Installing a whole-home energy monitor either inside the electrical panel or mounted on a wall is more complex. Typically, the monitor includes sensors that clip to individual circuits and a small unit that analyzes the information. The number of individual circuits to be monitored can influence the choice of which home energy monitor to purchase.
If unsure about installation, find a professional to install it. Once the hardware is installed, connect the device to the home’s Wi-Fi, and it should be up and running in less than an hour.
Our Top Picks
Choosing the best home energy monitor depends on an individual’s needs and preferences. These top picks address various requirements and situations. Each takes the described considerations into account.
Sense offers whole-house energy monitoring for regular, smart, or solar-powered homes. This monitor relies on machine learning to recognize individual devices over time and lets users know which devices are running for more efficient and informed use. Receive information about historical use, identify patterns, set goals to reduce energy use, identify waste, and monitor what’s happening, even when away on vacation.
Make energy saving easier and link this monitor to a smart assistant to use voice commands for hands-free updates and energy adjustments. View the dashboard through an app to set up customized notifications when entering peak consumption zones to know how long a device has been running, seek assurance about whether an appliance has been turned off, and more. The monitor can integrate with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other technology. This energy monitor installs inside an electrical panel, and an electrician probably should handle this task.
Receive up-to-the-moment data about energy cost and usage anytime and anywhere with EMPORIA ENERGY’s Gen 2 monitor. The monitor comes with 16 sensors that clamp onto the main and individual circuits in the breaker box, which are best attached by a professional, though they come with DIY instructions.
The device monitors larger appliances attached to the individual circuits, but it integrates with smart plugs (not included) to monitor smaller appliances, set timers and schedules, and increase control through the EMPORIA ENERGY app. Solar homes can use this monitor to see how much excess energy goes back to the grid versus how much energy the home consumes. The app sends notifications based on the data it gathers, so users know which steps to take to conserve energy and control costs.
Rather than invest in and install a whole-home system, installing this TOPGREENER Wi-Fi outlet can help monitor energy of individual outlets at a relatively low price. This outlet handles heavy-duty energy loads, so it’s compatible with multiple appliances. Through the phone app, users can remotely turn appliances on or off, set up timers or schedules, monitor energy use, and more. Integrate the smart plug with virtual assistants like Alexa for voice control, and complete actionable steps by asking the assistant to make adjustments. Installation is as simple as plugging the smart outlet into the wall and plugging the appliance into the smart outlet.
BN-LINK’s Wi-Fi smart outlets help save space and avoid blocking the outlet, enabling two smart outlets to stack on top of each other without issue. Manually control the outlet with the on-off power button, or use the Smart Life app to control and monitor the outlet’s power use, set up automatic timers, or schedule an appliance, such as the coffee maker.
Within the app, name each smart outlet based on which appliances are plugged into them and use voice commands with Alexa or Google Assistant for hands-free use. Installation is straightforward; plug the smart outlets into the wall, plug appliances into the outlet, and connect with a secure Wi-Fi connection.
The Sense Energy Monitor with Solar’s dashboard has built-in cost calculations to compare the energy produced and energy consumed in a side-by-side view, information that can minimize the amount of power to purchase. The longer it’s plugged in, the more this monitor learns, which helps the monitor determine patterns in energy use and find ways to improve.
The Sense monitor identifies individual appliances and offers information about specific devices: when they’re on, their efficiency, vampire tendencies, and more. The energy monitor sends notifications about potential issues, including solar system alerts. Sense fits right into the electrical panel and is best installed by a certified electrician. It then connects the home to a smartphone via the power of Wi-Fi.
See the real-time costs of energy use with this easy-to-use home energy monitor from Eyedro. Its sensors clip into an electrical panel to feed information to an online dashboard using the provided Ethernet cable, but it also has a Wi-Fi option. Log in to the Eyedro website to see energy usage any time, even when away from the house.
As appliances turn on and off, the change to energy consumption displays as an update on a phone or computer screen. Through the dashboard, access monitoring reports and bill estimates and receive alerts if the power goes out at home and the system loses communication. Install this energy monitoring system into an electrical panel in as little as 15 minutes with the included instructions.
FAQs About Home Energy Monitors
Selecting the best home energy monitor requires a bit of research. Here are some of the commonly asked questions and answers about home energy monitors to help you get started.
Q. How do energy monitors work?
Sensors clip to individual circuits in the electrical panel, measuring the amount of energy used by that particular circuit. It transmits this information to a smartphone or computer so you can see how much energy is used at a given time.
Q. How accurate are energy monitors?
Home energy monitors are relatively accurate. Quality energy monitors can estimate usage accurately within 1 percent.
Q. Do smart plugs waste electricity?
Smart plugs draw about 1 watt in standby mode, but the energy they save from limiting power to plugged-in devices makes up for the energy they use.