Do you really need an energy monitor for your home?
Energy monitors for the entire home can potentially measure how much power your home uses, down to the individual circuits and even individual units, so you can identify ways to save. With electricity prices rising across the country and climate change driving conversations about consumption, efficiency and how people get their energy, these screens have appeal. According to the manufacturers and some of the independent experts we spoke to, many households save on average almost 10% on their electricity bill a year after installing a monitor, with several dedicated people saving up to twice as much.
So why, after planning to test these screens and make a recommendation, did we come from there and question their overall value to our readers? It’s not because they do not work – we have identified three models that we will suggest to anyone who goes ahead with a purchase. This is because they may not be necessary. This finding felt like the most urgent information for us to convey. Our conclusion became clear when source after source outlined simple, proven steps anyone can take to lower their electricity bill without the use of an energy monitor. It came into greater focus when sources emphasized how smart devices, often able to report and limit their own energy consumption, could integrate with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Home to form their own package of information for both active and automated energy management. With smart technology integrated in multiple devices and even in switch panels, energy monitors can be a thing of the past. Here we aim to help you find out if a monitor or other energy-saving technology is your better choice today.
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Sense Energy Monitor
Sense, one of the earliest monitors available, uses machine learning to identify individual devices and their power consumption.
Senses monitors use machine learning – and one million measurements per second – to try to identify individual appliances and their power consumption, and tease out their unique “signatures” from the home’s main power supplies. The version that we suggest some consider first is the company’s base model, but Sense also offers two upgrades, one that adds the ability to measure solar panel power (if you have panels, of course) and another that can monitor two direct sub-circuits, “perfect for large loads, such as HVAC systems and EV chargers or difficult to detect variable motors, such as heat pumps, “as the company’s marketing language says. The goal of machine learning is simple: Although your network company can tell you how much power you use each month, a monitor can give you more detailed data on where your power is used, possibly allowing you to identify areas where you can be more efficient ( the data comes to you via smartphone and web apps). Sense told us that customers achieve an average saving of about 10% a year after the monitor is installed, with active users often seeing 20%; these numbers are in line with what we heard from the manufacturers of other monitors we examined. But machine learning is very difficult to implement well – something Sense was open about – and although most customers rate the company’s screens highly, about 15% report that even after prolonged use, their screen has not been able to identify many devices.
Generac PWRview W2
Generac’s PWRview W2 display, based on the previous Neurio W1, also uses machine learning to identify devices, and it costs less than Sense.
Generac’s PWRview W2 machine learning monitor is based on the previous W1 from Neurio, another pioneer in the field that Generac acquired in 2019. Generac gave savings calculations similar to those Sense gave when we spoke, and again points to active users’ ability to cut. their bills by as much as 20%. Like the Sense screens, the PWRview is agnostic – it can work in almost any electrical panel. And it usually costs less than the Sense devices. As part of Generac’s broader ecosystem of green energy, which includes solar panels and solar cells, PWRview can offer most of the benefits to people who already use Generac products.
Emporia Gen 2 Vue
Emporia’s Gen 2 Vue monitor does not use machine learning, but you can add additional sensors to directly measure what up to 16 individual circuits use.
Unlike the other monitors we suggest, Emporia Energy’s Gen 2 Vue monitor does not use machine learning to identify individual electrical loads, instead relying on owner interaction to identify individual loads and potential areas for storage: You go around turning things on and off on while looking at the screen’s load measurements in real time and thus find out how much power, for example, your dryer uses versus how much your microwave uses. That approach may appeal to you, and the company also offers upgraded models (or equivalent retrofits) that add eight or 16 circuit-level sensors so you can directly see what each circuit in your home uses in addition to how much power is being drawn. of the mains.