So, we get it: saving energy may not sound like the most exciting family activity. But it’s not all sweaters and candles, either. While advances in building science have made it possible to heat and cool a home with less energy than ever, advances in technology have likewise made it possible to address electricity usage in the home with remarkable precision, and with energy monitoring tools that actually make saving energy a pretty fun activity for the family.
There are a variety of energy monitors on the market that suit all varieties of needs (and budgets). A few of them:
Single Appliance Energy Monitors
Single appliance electricity monitors like the Kill-a-Watt (shown above) measure the electricity consumption of one appliance or electronic device at a time. Wondering how much energy the old fridge in your basement is using? Just plug it into the Kill-a-Watt and plug the Kill-a-Watt into the wall. Depending on the model, you can even see energy consumption predictions over time and cost estimates.
Whole House Energy Monitors
A whole-house energy monitor monitors the electricity consumption of your whole house at once. This is a very popular type of energy monitor and there are a number of similar ones on the market, including the Blue Line Powercost Monitor and the Owl, among others.
These devices connect either to your circuit board or your meter, and measure how much electricity your whole house is consuming at any time. Many of them have handy monitors that you can leave in your kitchen or another convenient location. If you see your energy use spiking, take a walk around the house and make sure the lights are all off. Think about strategies to reduce your energy consumption and challenge your family to keep the monitor displaying as low a number as possible at all times.
Circuit-by-Circuit Energy Monitors
Circuit-by-circuit energy monitors look at the energy consumption of each individual circuit within your home. While these are significantly more expensive than the more basic types of electricity monitors, the value is real: a product like the Powerhouse Dynamics eMonitor even has a sleek online dashboard that looks at energy consumption over time, where you’re using the most energy, where opportunities to save energy exist, and much much more. (Getting your kids involved in a little energy saving competition, seeing whose bedroom can use the least energy, is a great way to foster a little friendly and money-saving competition.)
Studies have estimated that monitoring your electricity usage can lead to energy savings of around 15%, just from the simple fact that with an energy monitor, you’re aware of what you’re using, and you are reminded to take action.
And plus, with all that money you’ve saved on your electricity bills, maybe you can go on that ski vacation you’ve always wanted to take with the kids. Who said saving energy wasn’t fun?