Do you know what devices or appliances in your home contribute the most to your monthly electricity costs? These helpful electrical meters will help you monitor electricity usage at home, reduce your electric bill, and even lower the carbon footprint of your family.
Kuman Power Meter: Single Outlet Electricity Usage Monitor
If you are mostly concerned with the energy consumption of a single appliance, then an affordable option is an electricity usage monitor like the Kuman power watt voltage amps meter. Just plug the Kuman power meter ($24; Amazon) into your wall outlet and then connect the appliance.
The Kuman power meter has a couple advantages over similar devices like the Belkin Conserve Insight.
- Overload Protection: Once power exceeds the rated power of the monitor, the LCD on the Kuman will display “OVERLOAD” with a loud alarm noise
- Built-in Battery: With a 3.6V rechargeable battery (NI-MH), the Kuman can store data while unplugged and even moved to a new outlet without losing readings.
Belkin Conserve Insight: Single Outlet Energy Usage Monitor
The Belkin Conserve Insight ($40; eBay) is a plug adapter with a built-in electric meter that allows you to measure and estimate your electric costs per day, month, or year. Just connect it in between the wall outlet and the device(s) that you wish to monitor. You can even plug a power strip into the Belkin Conserve Insight and measure all devices on that strip.
Personally, this is my favorite energy monitor, especially if your power meter will become permanently installed. The Belkin Conserve Insight has a long cord, which allows you to place the LED screen on a desk or on top of a Bitcoin mining rig. Otherwise, you’ll have to crawl around on the floor to see your reading on the power meter plugged into the wall outlet.
- Product Dimensions: 0.04 x 0.04 x 0.04 inches (1.02 mm)
- Item Weight: 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg)
- Manufacturer: Belkin Components
- ASIN: B003WV5DBU
- Item model number: F7C005Q
Sense Energy Monitor: Full Home Energy Monitor
The Sense Energy Monitor ($300+; Amazon) is a very cool full-home real-time home Electricity Usage monitoring system that gets installed inside your master electric box in your home. If you are comfortable working around electricity, it’s easy enough to install the Sense Energy Monitor by yourself. You’ll just need to acquire an extra 15A circuit breaker. However, tinkering around inside your breaker box can be dangerous, and you may want to hire an electrician to complete the installation for you.
The Sense Energy Monitor is more expensive but has several advantages. Primarily, it features a cleaner user interface and is much easier to physically install than other home electricity monitoring systems like the Gen 2 Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor ($100+; Amazon). In addition to being cheaper, the Emporia Vue has more customized monitoring options, but it requires a more complex setup inside your circuit breaker box and running additional wires and connections.
Once installed, you can use the Sense app on your smartphone to measure the real-time electric usage in your home. Additional options also allow you to measure the energy output of your solar panels or generator(s). Did someone leave the lights on or the iron plugged in? Are the kids home from school and watching TV instead of doing their homework? Just check your Sense app to find out.
KAIWEETS Digital Clamp Meter: Amp Clamp Meter
If you need to measure two separate wires, instead of just one wire, the easiest and safest option is to use an amp clamp meter. Common examples of non-linear power loads include home breaker boxes, car batteries, generators, RVs, and boats. These loads often have two separate positive and negative wires.
What Is an AMP Clamp Meter? Amp clamp meters are different from other electricity meters because they have jaws that don’t need to make physical contact with a wire. Clamp meters allow you to just clip onto a wire over the plastic cover to make a non-contact voltage detection. There’s no need to directly touch the exposed live wires or connection points. Amp clamp meters typically measure a variety of things including AC/DC current, AC/DC voltage, frequency or duty cycle, resistance, capacitance, and temperature.
The KAIWEETS Digital Clamp Meter ($45; Amazon) is one of the most popular amp clamps on the market. Not only can it measure AC/DC, but it’s pocket-sized and even has an LCD backlight and flashlight.
Why Would You Want To Monitor Electricity Usage At Home?
How would you use a power meter to monitor electricity usage at home? Here are some ways that I have found electricity meters to be extremely useful devices.
- Measuring The Electric Use Of Bitcoin Miners: I have a Bitcoin mining rig in my garage. When mining cryptocurrency, you need to closely monitor your electric usage and compare it to your monthly earnings. Using power meters like the Belkin Conserve Insight or Kuman can help you determine when it is more financially viable to temporarily stop mining.
- Appliance Upgrade Considerations: I’ve wanted to upgrade my Samsung flat-screen TV to something bigger for years. Even though it’s 10+ years old, it still works great. But after connecting the Belkin Conserve Insight to the TV, the decision to upgrade was clear. My old Samsung TV was an energy hog and a new energy-efficient TV would pay for itself in reduced electric costs in just a few years.
- Finding Vampire Power Devices: Unfortunately, about 10% of your monthly electric bill is from devices in your home that aren’t even turned on. Everything from video game consoles to kitchen appliances uses what’s called “standby power” or Vampire Power. For example, unplugging my PlayStation when I’m not using it, saves me $65 a year.
- Eliminating Power Hogs: One of the biggest reasons to monitor electricity usage at home is to find and eliminate home energy hogs. A full home power energy monitoring system, like Sense, allows you to monitor your entire home and evaluate its energy usage over time. Different types of devices, like lights, automatically get grouped and Sense enables you to easily tweak and reduce your home energy usage.
Carbon Emissions And The Environmental Impact Of Your Home Energy Usage
Unless you’ve gone totally off the grid, like the Unabomber, we all have electricity in our homes. The devices listed in this article will all help you monitor electricity usage at home, as well as your RV, car, boat, or generator. Lowering your electric bill won’t just help you save money on your utility bills, but they will also help reduce your carbon emissions.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.