Sitting on the table by the sofa in the living room, is our energy monitor. I got this clever wee gizmo to test a few months ago, and was originally a sceptic about claims it could make a substantial difference to energy usage.
These widgets are the new sexy ‘usp’ for certain energy tariffs – though even though I’m a fan, as I’ll explain later, in most cases you shouldn’t sign up to those.
I’ve been converted
My initial doubts are now long gone. However, what I’ve found is it isn’t the actual cost that makes me change habits (as mine’s a trial monitor it’s not actually on my specific tariff it’s more an indicator), it’s the institinctive knowledge you learn about what it should cost and when there’s a problem.
Yet over time you come to learn the rough rates it should be. On mine:
• Bed time – most appliances off £0.02/hour
• Watching TV, with some low lighting on £0.08/hour
• Watching TV, while Mrs MSE with lights on in another room £0.12/hour
• Boiling the kettle while watching TV £0.45/hour
These markers are all important, for example, if I’m watching TV and the monitor is on £0.20/hour I know somewhere something is wrong.
In fact I’m now at the state that I know if it’s specifically £0.20/hour the bathroom lights have been left on (as they’re not energy saving bulbs due to the sockets in there); so I head straight there to turn them off.
The amount saved can quickly add up – we’re pretty good with turning things off anyway, but even so I suspect the saving over a year to be £50 – £100.
It isn’t just me who loves them
I was chatting to the rest of the MSE team, and Jenny’s also been converted…
“I’m not very gadgety but the monitor was simple to set up. You just plug it in, fix it to your electricity meter and you’re off.
“When you boil the kettle, the monitor starts jumping about crazy and it’s really exciting. I had to stop myself boiling it again to show everyone the effect of boiling it.
“Advice like ‘put on a jumper instead of putting the heating on’ sounds a bit trite until you see how much heating actually whacks up your bill. Plus when you go to bed, you can check how much energy you’re using and run around unplugging laptops and phone chargers.
“Some of it is a bit depressing, for example, our whirring old fridge eats electricity and our landlord won’t change it. So when we have to kit out our own house with mod cons, I’ll definitely look at energy efficient appliances.”
Don’t go for an energy monitor tariff though…
Having just raved about the monitors, you may be surprised by this. The reason’s quite simple – the cheapest energy cost around £30 while in most regions the cheapest energy meter tariffs are at least £100 a year more than the cheapest tariff (see cheap gas & electricity plus cashback).
So buy yourself an energy monitor and switch to the cheapest tariff.