An energy monitor, as its name suggests, is a device designed to help you see where and how you use energy, enabling you to make savings on your gas and electricity bills by being more energy efficient.
Energy monitors calculate the daily and monthly running costs of household appliance and lighting, so when you turn on the kettle, for example, you can see exactly how much energy you are using.
How do energy monitors work?
Energy monitors are usually very straightforward to set up - typically you simply plug the device you wish to monitor into a transmitter which then sends all of the relevant usage data to a control panel.
The control panel will usually have the capacity to monitor several transmitters at a time and some devices enable you to use the panel to turn on or off any connected appliances at the same time.
While having an energy monitor won't directly save you money, the aim of them is to show you where you might be wasting energy unnecessarily so you can change your habits and cut costs.
As a general rule, the sort of saving you might expect to generate by using an energy monitor to help alter your behaviour is around 15% off your gas and electricity bills.
Can I get a free energy monitor?
Yes. Some energy suppliers offer free monitors when you sign up for their tariffs, but you should never be tempted to go with an uncompetitive deal just because you get a monitor thrown in.
Always shop around for the cheapest energy tariff and compare the prices of as many suppliers as possible to ensure you get a good deal. Then buy an energy monitor separately if the supplier you've gone with doesn't offer one free.
You can usually pick up energy monitors from as little as £25 for a basic version which will give you a wireless transmitter and cost display setting in £s, kWh, and pence per hour. More expensive models, usually costing from around £40, will come with a memory function so you can see how much energy you have used in previous weeks and months, or may also show the level of CO2 emissions you are producing.
Tips for using an energy monitor
There's no point having a monitor unless you keep a close eye on your energy usage, so make sure you put it somewhere you can see it.
Remember too that the readings will be most accurate if you put in your own tariff rate rather than relying on the preset tariff rate, so adjust this setting when you start using the monitor.
See how changing the way you do things has an impact on your energy usage to give you an idea of where you can make the biggest savings. For example, if you tend to leave your TV on standby, use the monitor to see how much you can save by switching it off. This will help change your behaviour.
How to reduce your energy consumption
There are several simple steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption and save on CO2 emissions at the same time.
For example, the Energy Saving Trust says that turning appliances off at the plug when not in use and avoiding leaving them on standby saves on average around £35 per year in energy bills.
Similarly, turning down your thermostat if it is set too high will save around £60 a year on heating bills, while washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures will save around £12 a year.
Even only filling the kettle up with as much water as you need could save around £7 in energy bills a year.
Whenever you are buying electrical items, check their energy rating, as the more energy efficient they are the lower your bills will be. Look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.
For example, replacing your old, energy inefficient fridge-freezer with a new energy saving recommended one could save you up to £26 every year and replacing a 12 year old tumble dryer with a new Energy Saving Trust Recommended model will save you around £21 in energy bills each year.
The type of TV you go for can also have an impact. Choosing an LCD TV over a plasma screen TV, for example can save you £30 a year in running costs.
†10% of customers could save up to £670. MoneySuperMarket Data, May 2016