A Guide to Electricity Usage Monitors

Fact Checked Fact Checked

Knowledge is power they say, so why not take control of your household electricity usage with a home energy monitor? Canstar Blue reviews electricity usage monitors and offers the following guide.

We all know we can reduce our power bills by switching off lights and standby appliances, but you’re sort of flying blind unless you know when or where the power is going to waste. Energy usage monitors provide useful insights to help bill-payers identify opportunities to reduce their electricity usage. Power monitors are also relatively simple to understand and more affordable than you might expect. In this guide, we discuss different types of monitors, how much they cost and what they do.

How do energy monitors work?

Energy monitoring systems provide real time and historic electricity usage information, helping users identify when and how they’re using power. Particular up-market models can even analyse usage patterns to detect which appliances are putting a strain on your energy bill. Most power consumption meters with your tariff information can also calculate how much your electricity usage is costing you and can warn you if you’ve exceeded a pre-set usage level. Some models can also be programmed to warn customers on a time of use tariff when electricity is most expensive.

What are the benefits of using a power consumption meter?

One of the main benefits to using a power consumption meter is that it can help you to track your electricity usage. With this data, consumers can then determine where they could cut down their usage, which could potentially help them to save on bills or lower their carbon footprint. In addition to tracking usage though, there are some other popular uses for energy monitors. These include;

  • Tracking daily/monthly/yearly electricity usage
  • Monitoring solar energy generation (if you have solar panels installed)
  • Investigating which devices are using up the most power
  • Tracking energy habits within the home

It is important to keep in mind however, that simply installing a power monitor won’t automatically save you money on energy bills or reduce your CO2 emissions. The monitoring system rather acts as a guide to help implement changes to energy habits.

How to install an energy monitor

Energy monitors will need to be installed by a licensed electrician. Some installations will be more of a job than others, depending on the type of energy meter you have and the amount of sensors required for the power monitor.

If you have a smart meter, you can get set up with power consumption monitoring in minutes, without the need for of an energy monitor installer or electrician. But if you have a traditional meter, there may need to be additional sensors installed in order to access the necessary digital information.

Types of Energy Monitors

There are a few different types of energy monitors designed to suit different electricity meter types and budgets. Monitors can be entirely online, or wirelessly displayed on a portable screen you can place anywhere in your home.

Wireless Electricity Monitors

Wireless electricity meters are portable tablet-like devices about the size of your palm. These monitors display real time energy usage data, including average kWh usage, costs and even Co2 emissions. Wireless electricity monitors are easy to set up and use, they’re usually wall-mountable and they generally have a battery life of six to 18 months. The downside to these models is that only some of the more expensive energy monitors display historical usage information, and if they do, it’s usually only for 12 months. So, while a wireless energy monitor is handy for anyone wanting a general idea of their energy usage, any number-loving bill-payers wanting to track their historical usage and compare it to their neighbours will probably prefer an online monitor.

Wireless energy monitors are available with both traditional and smart meters. Regardless of the meter type, you will require a qualified electrician to attach wireless energy sensors to your meter.

Online Energy Monitors

As the name suggests, online energy monitors are completely web-based and can be accessed from a desktop or through tablet and mobile apps. Online monitors are typically more accurate than wireless monitors and generally provide deeper insights into your electricity usage, including information on voltage, power factor and how your energy usage compares to other properties in your area for that time of year. Online monitors can also track solar output provided you have the right solar inverter and meter.

online energy monitoring

If you have a traditional meter, you can access online energy monitoring by adding an attachment to your internet router and hiring an electrician to attach a sensor to your meter. Most Australians with smart meters will automatically have access to online monitoring through their electricity retailer. Retailer monitoring portals are particularly useful as they usually include bill predictions to help you budget.

Solar Monitors

Solar monitors can track solar output, efficiency and savings. Solar monitors are usually incorporated into online electricity usage monitors, provided that you have a compatible inverter and meter. Certain wireless monitors may also include solar tracking, though they often provide limited insights.

3-Phase Power Monitors

When shopping for a power consumption monitor, you may see the term ‘3-phase’ thrown around. But what does it mean? Well for most homes, electricity is fed through a single wire, known as ‘single-phase’. If you have a large home with high-powered appliances, such as ducted air conditioning, then your home demands more electricity at certain times, which requires a higher current, fed through 3 wires – hence, 3-phase.

This type of monitoring is virtually identical to single-phase energy monitoring, though installing any necessary hardware for 3-phase models is more difficult and expensive compared with single-phase monitors.

Compare Energy Plans

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Best Home Energy Usage Monitors

There are plenty of home energy monitors on offer in Australia. Here are some of the most popular, excluding electricity retailers with online monitoring.

Best Home Energy Monitors

  • Efergy
  • Wattwatchers
  • Sense
  • Powerpal
  • Curb
  • Smappee

Keep in mind that certain monitors have very particular compatibility requirements. Be sure to get an expert opinion if you’re not sure whether your home meets the requirements for energy monitoring.

Home Energy Monitor Prices

Home energy monitors can cost anything from $50 to $500. Wireless energy monitors are generally on the more affordable end of the scale. Traditional meter owners who require an electrician to install sensors for online or wireless monitoring suites will find themselves spending the most for electricity monitoring. If you already have a smart meter installed, you should be able to access online monitoring for no upfront cost.

Should I buy an energy usage monitor?

If you have a smart meter, then there’s no reason not to take advantage of online energy monitoring. If you have a traditional meter and require additional installations to access energy monitoring though, then it might be worth asking yourself – “If I get energy monitoring, will I use it enough to justify the expense?”

Of course, knowing is only half the battle. Even with energy monitoring, you may be paying too much for power if you haven’t shopped around recently for the best price. You can compare electricity companies and plans across VIC, NSW, QLD and SA via the link below.

Compare Electricity Plans

Share this article