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Electricity monitors: are they any good?

A few months ago, I saw that my energy supplier, npower, was giving away electricity monitors for customers who sign up for its ‘my npower’ online account management.

It sounded too good an offer to miss out on, so I went for it.

In all honesty, I’d probably never have bought an electricity monitor for myself. I’m already fairly energy conscious (I never leave anything on standby, I turn lights off when I leave the room, I do my washing at 30 degrees, and I even keep my fridge and freezer full of bottles of tap water to keep the running costs down) so I wasn’t sure how much difference it would make to my electricity usage.

A few weeks later a red box turned up at my door:

A free electricity monitor? For me?

I was concerned that it was going to be a pain to get up and running, but the set up was surprising easy. The instructions were clear and I didn’t have any trouble following them, and finding the right cable to clip it to by my electricity meter was far simpler than I expected. One thing I wished I’d thought of was to copy down my unit rates to before I started getting the display unit configured, as it was a pain to have to stop to go and grab my laptop to check them.

The display unit shows how much energy you’re using at that time in £s, kWhs or carbon emissions. You can see what you’d use in an hour, and keep track of your daily and weekly usage. You can even set weekly electricity usage targets to try to stick to.

The electricity monitor display unit

Childishly, as soon as it was working, I went round switching everything in the house on to see how high I could make my hourly spend go – which kind of defeated the object!

It was interesting to see how much it costs to do everyday things, like sit and watch TV (3p per hour) or keep my fridge and freezer running (2.5p per hour).

It was also interesting to see what the real energy guzzlers in my home were. I’d assumed the washing machine would be the worst culprit, but because I have it set to 30 degrees, it’s not as expensive as I’d thought. The real shockers were my kettle and Hoover – both of which sent the needle on the monitor sky-rocketing towards the 40p per hour mark (still not that expensive really!)

I also found that I spend about £3.70 on electricity a week. I’m quite happy with that, but it really did put into perspective just how much I spend on gas. I don’t think it had ever dawned on me before, because I’m on a dual fuel tariff and pay one single Direct Debit each month.

Now if someone could just make me a gas monitor, I’d be very happy!

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  • Kathryn

    I’ve been wondering whether or not to get an energy monitor so this was an interesting article but do you think it has changed the way you use electricity at home?

    • Lauren Pope

      I would say it hasn’t, no – because I’m already very conscious of the energy I use and there isn’t much more that I can cut back on.

      I would say it’s helped my understand just how much different things are costing me though – for example, I had no idea that hoovering my flat cost as much a doing a load of washing.

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