We’ve written extensively on the benefits of home automation for energy management, particularly on how smart thermostats, such as those offered by Nest, Honeywell, Carrier and others allow you to easily adjust your home’s temperature, even while you’re away, to save money and make your house more comfortable. However, there’s one important part that we left out—smart energy management is more than just automating how your thermostat goes up or down. Real energy management requires an energy monitoring system, which means knowing how much energy you’re using.
If you know how much energy your home is using and when it’s using it, you can better respond to that usage and take control of your costs. Before smart home systems, energy monitoring mostly meant scanning your electricity bill each month and then telling your family to shut off the lights. New technology makes the process much easier.
There are several ways you can monitor (and then respond to) your home’s electricity usage. Some methods let you monitor only the appliance you have connected to the monitoring device, while other systems take a whole-house approach. Here are a few energy monitoring systems worth checking out:
The TED Pro Home Energy Monitoring System uses your home’s existing powerlines to monitor energy usage in real-time. It can actually tackle up to 32 individual circuits, as well as individual rooms. That way, you can keep tabs on devices that are energy hogs and unplug them accordingly.
The TED Pro electricity monitor uses measuring devices that clamp onto the main conductors inside your breaker panel. The devices then send the data that’s measured over your home’s powerlines. No extra wiring is needed! That data is collected in a receiving unit, which you can plug into any outlet around the house. Inside, the receiving unit has the company’s Footprints software, which can store and track up to 10 years’ worth of energy data. Homeowners can keep tabs on that information via any web-enabled device (such as a smartphone). You can even opt to receive customized alerts via text or email messages. Other features include colored LEDs to alert users to different parameters, as well as the option to turn loads on and off based on the cost of electricity, use, and more. $299: (Available: on Amazon).
You can also check out our list of Easy Smart Energy Monitoring Devices to Help You Save Electricity for other energy-saving ideas.
The Digi XBee Smart Meter plugs into any outlet to make it into a smart outlet and lets you monitor and measure whatever is plugged into that outlet, and even control those devices as needed. The Digi XBee Smart Meter connects to your ZigBee network. And if you’re looking to monitor multiple devices, you can do that, by adding in one of the company’s ConnectPort X gateways. That combination allows you to have multiple Digi XBee Smart Meters scattered throughout the house, creating one whole-house energy management solution. Each Digi XBee Smart Meter has a built-in mounting tab, so it can be securely attached to any wall socket. It can be used with the aforementioned ConnectPort X gateways (starts at $108), XBee embedded modules, XBee adapters, or XBee sensors, all without the need for a wired infrastructure. Once attached, users can monitor load consumption information, including on/off status, operating range, and even erratic behavior. $84 web site. (Available on Amazon)
The: Elgato Eve energy monitoring system uses Bluetooth and a variety of different sensors to deliver info on your home’s air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, water consumption and more. All of that data can be viewed in the free Eve iOS app. It’s also Apple HomeKit compatible, so the Elgato Eve can be operated via Apple’s Siri voice control system. : The sensors include Eve Room,Weather, Water, Door & Window, Smoke and Energy. The entire system boasts an easy setup, thanks to the app. Other app features include info on outdoor temperature, humidity and air pressure, as well as the option to switch devices on or off remotely with one tap.
The Eve app is: available for use with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. : List price for Elgato Eve is: $79.95, but the app is a freebie.
Blue Line Innovations PowerCost System
The Power Cost system from Blue Line Innovations monitors your electricity usage at the source—well, not at the power plant, but as close as you can get. Users attach an optical sensor on the outside of their home’s electricity meter (it won’t get in the way of regular meter readings). The sensor monitors your energy usage in real time and sends that data wirelessly to a selection of devices in your home, including a portable monitor (with LED readouts) or a Wi-Fi bridge which communicates with a smart phone or tablet app or a computer. The Power Monitor, outdoor sensor and Wi-Fi bridge together cost $179. (Available on Amazon)
For more smart energy saving solutions read Home Energy Management Takes More than a Smart Thermostat
This article was written on April 3, 2015 and updated on January: 5, 2016.