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Energy monitors

Your electricity use in real time

Energy monitors accurately measure and display a household’s electricity usage in real time. This can help you understand how to cut your bills.

Energy monitors display electricity consumption in units called kilowatt hours (kWh). Electricity bills use the same unit (1 unit on your bill = 1kWh) so your energy monitor can show you the cost of the electricity you are using and will be billed for.

[See also Smart Meters]

As the monitor will show you instantly the effect of turning on/off different lights and appliances you can see which use the most energy. This can help you understand your energy use better, and help you decide which energy-hungry appliances to use sparingly in order to cut your fuel costs.

Monitors cost around £30–40 and are easy to install. Most are small enough to hold in your hand and can be fixed by a bracket to the wall or just put somewhere visible like on a shelf. Sometimes energy suppliers give monitors to their customers for free.

How do they work?
Energy monitors come in two parts. Firstly a sensor which clips onto the power cable of your electricity meter. This measures the amount of electricity passing through it and sends this information to the second part, a visual display unit.

Changing your habits
When you first get a monitor you can use it to assess your energy use thoroughly. By turning off all lights and appliances (though not things like the fridge that need to be on all the time) you’ll see how much electricity your home uses ‘at rest’, much as it would be during the night or if everyone was out. This is often referred to as the ‘base load’. If you then turn on appliances one by one, you'll get a good idea of which gadgets or appliances use the most electricity.

The next stage is to watch out for unnecessary energy wastage, such as appliances being left on standby, and to try to use energy-hungry devices less frequently or for shorter periods. The monitor acts as a tool to give you an accurate idea of the greatest savings you can make. If everyone in the household gets involved you can work together to bring your electricity use down and saving you money.

[See also How much electricity am I using?']

Monitoring your usage over the long term is a great way of keeping you on track and ensuring you save money on your bills. Rather than using the monitor as a novelty item and then forgetting about it, try to check how your electricity usage is decreasing over weeks, months or even years.

There are many different monitors to chose from, each with a variety of features. Some monitors allow you to:

  • Track your energy use over time, allowing you to see the progress you’ve made towards reducing your usage.
  • Download your information onto your computer for further analysis. 
  • Carry your monitor easily around your home whilst investigating your energy use more closely. 
  • Use your monitor in conjunction with socket monitors to measure the energy use of specific appliances.
  • Set different electricity tariffs at different times of day. This is handy if you’re on Economy 7.
  • Set daily electricity usage targets, giving you an energy ‘budget’ to try to stick to.
  • Set a ‘usage alarm’ to alert you when you have exceeded a set amount of electricity use. 

Frequently asked questions

How do I work out the running cost of an electrical appliance?

A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 Watts. If you know the rating of the appliance in kilowatts then you can simply multiply this by the length of time the appliance is being used (in hours) to give you its kilowatt hour (kWh) consumption. A kWh is the same as one unit of electricity on your bill. The price per unit will be on your bill. You could also plug your appliance into an individual appliance monitor. This will show the electricity consumption when the appliance is switched on. You can also get energy monitors that tell you how much electricity is being used in your whole house at any given time.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


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Which is more efficient for cooking - gas or electric hobs?

Electricity is around four times more expensive per unit than gas but you'll use fewer units cooking with electricity. A typical household might spend around £40 per year more by cooking with electricity as compared with gas. Also gas cooking appliances are traditionally more controlable than electric. However modern electric hobs heat up extremely quickly, reducing efficiency losses. With electric hobs make sure you match the pan size to the hob. Using a 6" diameter pan on an 8" diameter hob will waste up to 40% of the heat produced. Keeping lids on saucepans will allow you to turn the hob down and thereby save energy.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


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Where can I get an energy monitor?

Energy monitors are available from high street and shopping centre home-ware stores and can also be ordered online. Your energy supplier may also be able to provide you with an energy monitor. Some people can even qualify for a free energy monitor.


Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234


Next question

View all frequently asked questions

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