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Energy Monitoring Gizmos (Jan08)

TRIED AND TESTED – ENERGY MONITORS

Energy Monitors don’t directly save you energy – but they should help you work out where you’re wasting it around the house and so cut back. I reduced by electricity bill by a quarter, when I got one – which more than paid back the cost of the monitor.

There are currently four main brands to choose from, as follows:

Efergy (£42.49) Neat design with both up to the minute energy display and historical data.
My verdict:  Once I’d set it up, it was great but initial programming could have been easier.

Eco-Eye (£49.99 – pre-order)  Shows current and historical energy use in a clear and useable way.
My verdict:  Seems to be like an up-market Efergy and I liked the look of it but I couldn’t get my test version to pick up a signal.

The Owl  (£49.95)  Basic model energy monitor with easy display and set up but no historic data.
My verdict:  I’m a little hesitant to recommend this model because I bought it under a different brand a couple of years ago and it stopped working.

Wattson 01 (£149.99):  Designer model that’s easy to use and visually appealing.
My verdict:  A good present for a reluctant energy saver who might be turned on by the attractive design.

Overall verdict:

If I bought an energy monitor today, I’d go for the Efergy but in 6 months time I suspect the Eco-Eye might win me over.  However, both my son and male friends were smitten with the Wattson – more fun but a lot more expensive! 

TELEGRAPH EARTH – ENERGY MONITORS

Energy Monitors don’t directly save you energy – but they should help you work out where you’re wasting it around the house and so cut back. I reduced by electricity bill by at least a quarter, when I got one – which more than paid back the cost of the monitor.

Setting them up isn’t too difficult – actually, if you keep calm, it’s quite easy.   I took a few days before getting mine out of the box because I thought it was going to be an ordeal.  But I had a friend round, so we worked it out together.  The basic components are a transmitter, which is a device that you have to clip onto a wire feeding into your electricity meter and a monitor, which is generally a hand held screen that you can take anywhere in the house.

 

The transmitter sends a signal to the monitor and it tells you how much electricity is currently being used.  When I got mine, we went all round the house turning everything off so we could get the energy reading to nil.  Hooray! It wasn’t as easy as it would appear.  The first thing I discovered was that there were lots of little, silent energy eaters that you don’t think about, such as electric toothbrushes, ipod chargers, broadband connections etc.  My middle son, Rollo, was the worst culprit.  He’s managed to set up a little row of plugs in his bedroom that constantly seems to be re-charging some device or other.

But the real saver for me was discovering that the old freezer in my out-house was absolutely guzzling up electricity – I worked out that it was costing me about £100-£150 a year.  Old equipment is often very inefficient – and bizarrely I’ve learnt that keeping fridges or freezers outside makes them work harder.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that it was a back-up freezer, so I decided to reduce my frozen food store and keep only one deep freeze.

Another energy saving measure I took was sorting out my TV equipment so it could be turned of from one easily accessible switch. Previously the plug had been tucked away at the back, so even if the TV was turned off, the video and DVD players were left on stand-by.

The brilliant thing about energy monitors is that they make you aware of what you’re using – and the new ones make it possible to compare how much less you’ve used after changing your habits. That makes it quite a fun game – and a real incentive for all the family to join in.  If, like me, you’re a bit competitive, you can challenge friends to see who can be the most energy-efficient!  At the same time you’ll be saving money and saving the planet.

There are currently four main brands to choose from, as follows:

Efergy (£42.49) www.efergy.com Neat design with both up to the minute energy display and historical data.
My verdict:  Once I’d set it up, it was great but initial programming could have been easier.

Eco-Eye (£49.99 – pre-order) www.eco-eye.com Shows current and historical energy use in a clear and useable way.
My verdict:  Seems to be like an up-market Efergy and I liked the look of it but I couldn’t get my test version to pick up a signal.

The Owl  (£49.95)  www.theowl.com Basic model energy monitor with easy display and set up but no historic data.
My verdict:  I’m a little hesitant to recommend this model because I bought it under a different brand a couple of years ago and it stopped working.

Wattson 01 (£149.99) www.diykyoto.com:  Designer model that’s easy to use and visually appealing.
My verdict:  A good present for a reluctant energy saver who might be turned on by the attractive design.

Overall verdict:

If I bought an energy monitor today, I’d go for the Efergy but in 6 months time I suspect the Eco-Eye might win me over.  However, both my son and male friends were smitten with the Wattson – more fun but a lot more expensive!

 

WORST ENERGY GUZZLERS

  • –  Large screen TVs (particularly Plasma) and computers
  • –  Old fridges, freezers and cookers
  • –  Incandescent and halogen light bulbs
  • –  Leaving lights on
  • –  Leaving equipment on stand-by
  • –  Electric heating – particularly if it’s not on a timer.

WEBLINKS  <No longer valid – 2018>

  • Electricity Monitor www.electricity-monitor.com Good site for finding out about and buying an energy monitor
  • Energy Saving Trust www.energysavingstrust.co.uk Offers advice on energy saving.
  • Green Energy Options www.greenenergyoptions.co.uk Developing a smart meter that monitors heating and hot water for gas, LPG or oil systems.
  • Home Energy Saving Sell energy saving devices including energy monitors.www.homeenergysaving.co.uk

This article was originally published in the Telegraph

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