A big concern for any economical and environmentally friendly homeowner is vampire energy. No, vampire energy is not some made-up thing that Kanye West brags about having — that’s dragon energy. Rather, vampire energy is the power your appliances and devices draw when you’re not actively using them.
Many media devices have LED standby lights, for example, and while this only accounts for a small amount of energy, it can add up. And while unplugging high-draw devices or switching off power strips is a great way to save energy, it can be time-consuming to run around the house at night pulling plugs out of the wall. That’s why an electricity usage monitor is a great device to have. They allow you to check how much power you’re using for specific devices. That way, you can figure out who the worst offenders on your energy bill are.
An electricity usage monitor is a simple device to set up and use — no electrician required. All you need to do is plug them into the wall, and then plug your device into the monitor. These monitors will typically have LCD screens and buttons that allow you to check different stats. For example, you can monitor kilowatt-hours (kWh), the standard measurement that electric companies bill by. Or, you can check amperes or voltage if you want a more detailed picture.
If your appliance is in a hard-to-reach place (like most appliances seem to be) you can upgrade to a smart plug with energy monitoring — these allow you to check performance from your phone as well as set energy-saving schedules. For a smart but non-high tech solution, consider an energy monitor with a detachable panel. These will let you check energy consumption without needing to climb behind the fridge.
These are the best electricity usage monitors to buy.
1. REED Power Meter (R5090)
This option from Reed has a simple design that won’t look obtrusive wherever you plug it in. After plugging it in, you set the local rate for kWh to track cost. You can toggle through metrics like voltage, current, watts, frequency and four other measurements. A built-in battery backup allows you to save your measurements, even if you lose power or unplug and move the unit.
2. TOPGREENER Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring
BEST FOR TECHIES
Smart plugs are a great way to turn common household appliances on with your phone. This smart plug combines the benefits of a smart plug with the cost-saving applications of energy monitoring. To add to the cost-saving benefits, this option comes in a set of two. There is no display — all the information can be found on the app.
3. TrickleStar 1-Outlet Plug-in Energy Monitor
BEST FOR HARD TO REACH APPLIANCES
This energy monitor from TrickleStar features a detachable panel with a four-foot cord, which you can use to check energy, cost and even CO2 impact. This is a great option if you want to monitor an appliance that’s in a hard-to-reach place, but you don’t want to get a WiFi-enabled device. You can also set up a timer to turn devices on and off.
4. P3 Kill A Watt EZ
This simple option is cleverly named Kill A Watt, and it offers several metrics that allow you to monitor energy consumption. It has a simple LCD that tracks kWh, which is the standard that utility companies use for billing. You can use the device to make calculations and even forecasts based on current power consumption. You can also use it to track other important metrics.
5. Poniie Plug-in Kilowatt Electricity Usage Monitor
This option from Poniie features an outlet that allows you to monitor the performance of any given appliance in your house. It has a backlight so you can still read it if it’s plugged in an outlet in a dark corner. You can check other metrics like current, voltage and frequency. The detail that sets this unit apart is the addition of a short extension cord, which prevents the monitor from taking up too much space on your power strip or wall.
6. kuman KW47-US Electricity Usage Monitor
EASY TO USE
This simple option has a three-line digital LCD that makes it easy to monitor the energy usage of different appliances in your home. It has a built-in backup battery that allows you to save the stored data if you end up moving the unit to a different appliance. You can also check other metrics like current and voltage.
7. Sense Energy Monitor
WHOLE HOME ENERGY MONITORING
This option is different from all of the others on this list. It performs far more functions than the average energy monitor — and that’s reflected in the price, too. The unit installs into your electric panel, which the company suggests having an electrician do. Then, you can easily monitor the energy consumption of all of the appliances in your home from your phone. The intuitive app shows well-designed graphs for tracking usage so you can make quick assessments at a glance.