a monitor on the desk showing lots of solar and electricity home energy use calculations on the screen

The modern home has many more appliances than the lights, TV, and refrigerator.

Today, we have PCs and tablets, charging phones, always-on routers, entertainment systems, security systems and surveillance cameras, pet and baby monitors, and the always-listening Alexa.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about how much energy these appliances consume when in use, but you can take steps to reduce energy wastage or curb over-consumption. 

How To Monitor Your Home Energy Consumption

Here are eight ways you can monitor your home’s energy:

  1. Use smart plugs for individual appliances.
  2. Use a whole-home electricity monitoring tool.
  3. Use monitors with appliance recognition features.
  4. Detect vampire loads.
  5. Use energy monitors that connect to mobile apps.
  6. Track energy usage costs in real-time. 
  7. Monitor solar electricity generation and usage.  
  8. Install programs and timers to manage energy usage. 

Monitoring home energy consumption is the first step to reducing electricity wastage or curbing over-consumption. Energy monitors can be used to track how much power an appliance is consuming and help you accomplish your energy-saving goals.

This article will explain how you can use these devices to monitor your home energy consumption. 

1. Use Smart Plugs for Individual Appliances

The most straightforward device to monitor home energy consumption is a smart plug or smart power strip.

Plug one into a power outlet and then plug your appliance into it. You can then get a reading on the amount of electricity the device consumes.

Smart plugs are ideal for use when you have just a few energy-hogging appliances that you want to monitor. Also, remember that these can only be used for small devices, such as a blender or hairdryer, and not for large appliances like washing machines or refrigerators. 

The efficiency of an in-use smart plug is monitored by a homeowner

Below are our picks for some of the most cost-effective smart plugs on the market (all available on Amazon):

P3 Electricity Usage Monitor

This monitoring device can calculate how much electricity an appliance will use in a day, week, month, or year and how much it will cost you. 

Sale
P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor , grey
3,198 Reviews
P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor , grey
  • Calculates cost and forecasts by week, month, and year
  • Displays eight critical units of measure on the large LCD display
  • Built-in backup of accumulated information.
  • Accurate within 0.2%
  • Calculates cost and forecasts by week, month and year

It also checks the quality of your power line by monitoring voltage, power factor, and line frequency, so you know for sure whether your refrigerator is gobbling up power or something is wrong with the line.

2. Use a Whole-Home Electricity Monitoring Tool

A whole-house power monitor can track the energy usage of all the appliances installed in your home. It has sensors you can connect to your home’s electrical panel or electricity meter.

The monitor can then track power consumption by all the appliances connected to an individual circuit. 

Whole-home energy monitors provide a holistic view of energy usage in your home. However, sometimes you may want to know how specific appliances are performing and if some devices are using more power than you want them to. 

Most energy monitoring systems support different household electricity voltages, such as 120V, 208V, or 240V. However, some units work only with split-phase households. Be sure you know which system is appropriate to install in your house. 

Whole-house energy monitors come with different functionalities. Read on to find out how the different models can provide you with as many energy usage details around your house as you want.

3. Use Monitors With Appliance Recognition Features

Whole-home energy monitors connect to individual circuits on the electrical panel. Some monitors only provide cumulative data on power consumption by all the appliances plugged into a particular circuit. 

However, more powerful whole-home monitors have a built-in appliance recognition feature to track power consumption by every device plugged into the sockets in your home.

These smart-systems learn the unique electrical signature of each device and can track them individually.

You can give a unique name to every appliance on the app, so you know which television in the house is switched on or which PC is guzzling power through the night. 

A homeowner adjusts a whole-home energy monitor on a wall

Knowing how much energy each appliance consumes rather than having a cumulative number for all the devices plugged into a circuit lets you adopt concrete and targeted measures to optimize energy usage.

Some of these monitors with the application recognition feature are so powerful that they can analyze data and detect consumption patterns to give recommendations.

For example, they may suggest switching off a device at a specific time during the day, adjusting a programmable thermostat, or upgrading a particular appliance to an energy-efficient model. You can also customize these monitors to alert you about details, such as when the refrigerator door is open.

We recommend the following home energy monitors with the application recognition feature (all available on Amazon):

Emporia Smart Home Energy Monitor With 16 Sensors

With 16 50A circuit-level sensors, the Emporia Smart Home Energy Monitor lets you track power consumption by specific appliances. The sensors provide up-to-the-second data and are highly accurate. 

Smart Home Energy Monitor with 16 50A Circuit Level Sensors | Real Time Electricity Monitor/Meter | Solar/Net Metering
2,398 Reviews
Smart Home Energy Monitor with 16 50A Circuit Level Sensors | Real Time Electricity Monitor/Meter | Solar/Net Metering
  • INSTALLS IN CIRCUIT PANEL of most homes with clamp-on sensors. Supports single-phase up to 240VAC line-neutral; single, split-phase 120/240VAC; and three-phase up to 415Y/240VAC (no Delta). Panels with access only to busbars will need flexible sensors available from Emporia Energy. Includes DIY instructions, though a professional electrician is recommended.
  • 24/7 ENERGY MONITORING: Monitor your home's real power anywhere, anytime to prevent costly repairs, conserve energy, and save costs. Monitor solar / net metering. Light commercial 3 phase option available as a separate bundle. PROTECTED BY A 1-YEAR WARRANTY.
  • APPLIANCE MONITORING WITHOUT GUESSWORK: Comes with sixteen (16) 50A sensors to accurately monitor your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, range, etc.
  • LOWER YOUR ELECTRIC BILL: Gauge real-time spending and get actionable notifications to understand where you can save costs.
  • REAL-TIME ENERGY DATA: REQUIRES 2.4 GHz WIFI WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION to monitor energy use with iPhone / Android app. Vue sensors provide 1-second data and are accurate from ±2%. The Vue is UL and CE Listed for your safety. 1 second data is retained 3 hours, 1 minute data is retained 7 days, 1 hour data is retained indefinitely. Export the data whenever you want in the app.

The data collected by the sensors also lets you figure out your home’s energy usage in real-time and over a specific period to determine how effective the energy-saving measures you have implemented are. 

Sense Energy Monitor

The Sense Energy Monitor has loads of useful functions. For example, the appliance recognition feature lets you identify the devices consuming the most energy.

Sense Energy Monitor - Track Electricity Usage in Real Time and Save Money - Meets Rigourous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
2,323 Reviews
Sense Energy Monitor - Track Electricity Usage in Real Time and Save Money - Meets Rigourous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
  • SENSE SAVES: Sense saves you energy and money by providing insights into your home's energy use and activity. NOW SUPPORTING TIME-OF-USE RATE PLANS.
  • SEE WHAT'S UP. KNOW WHAT'S ON: Track how much electricity you're using, what time your kids got home, or when someone leaves the basement light on. Sense identifies patterns in your energy use to help your familiy be more efficient, informed, and secure.
  • MONITOR YOUR HOME'S ENERGY USE FROM ANYWHERE: Real-time data through our iOS, Android, and web apps.
  • AVOID DISASTER: Set custom notifications for critical devices, like your sump pump, well pump, or flat iron.
  • MEETS RIGOROUS SAFETY STANDARDS: Sense's components and system have been designed and ETL/Intertek certified for installation and operation inside the electrical panel. Sense is not currently available or compatible outside the United States and Canada.

Plus, the smart sensors identify the electricity use patterns in your home to help you save money and be more energy-efficient. It also tracks data in real-time and sends you notifications for critical devices, such as your well pump, sump pump, or flat iron. 

They also have a version if you have a solar system here.

4. Detect Vampire Loads

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, “idle load electricity” or vampire load accounts for 23 percent of the power consumption in an average American household.

A power strip with almost all outlets in use

So, powered-on but idle devices, such as computers and video recorders in sleep or standby mode, contribute to a quarter of your electricity bill

Smart whole-home energy monitors can track electricity consumption in real-time. You can use the data collected by the sensors to find out the sources of wasted electricity and identify vampire loads. 

5. Use Energy Monitors That Connect to a Mobile App

The more information you have about your home energy consumption, the more informed you can be. These insights are potent triggers for you to initiate behavioral changes and adopt measures to help you become more energy-efficient. 

Today, most home energy monitors have downloadable apps that can provide instant updates on your home energy consumption. These apps are easy to navigate and present the numbers visually, so you can instantly gauge what’s happening with your home’s energy. 

In general, an app can store data and generate reports and insights to help you determine the right size of a solar PV system that you may want to install in the future.

In addition, using energy monitors connected to mobile apps helps reach energy-saving goals in the following ways:

  • They alert you about appliances that are consuming more power than usual.
  • They send you notifications about appliances so you can identify those that need to be unplugged or upgraded to a more energy-efficient model.
  • They help you monitor your progress if you program your target energy consumption goals into them. 
  • They send you recommendations on saving electricity. 
  • Some apps can review the data collected by the sensors and initiate actions, such as powering off an appliance from remote locations.
  • They make tracking your home’s energy usage easier by saving the time and effort you need to visit the electrical panel or read meters.

6. Track Energy Usage Cost in Real-Time 

You may want to monitor your home energy consumption to keep tabs on your utility bills. Some home energy monitors let you track the cost of your power consumption in real-time. 

A plug is shown in front of stacks of coins in ascending height, indicating utility bill savings by reducing home energy consumption

The real-time cost tracking feature lets you watch how your home energy consumption and costs increase or decrease at specific times of the day or as you switch on or switch off a particular device.

7. Monitor Solar Electricity Generation and Usage  

Suppose you have a solar power system installed in your house or are considering going solar. In that case, you can keep tabs on the electricity generated and usage with solar-ready home energy monitors. 

These energy monitors let you track the following parameters of your solar setup:

  • Energy generated by your solar panels 
  • Time of usage 
  • Pattern of usage

This data helps determine whether the solar panels are generating as much power as they should. 

These numbers also help you optimize your time-of-use rate plans. For instance, you can run specific devices on solar power during the day when buying electricity from the grid costs more. 

We recommend the following solar-ready home energy monitors (all available on Amazon.com):

Sense Energy Monitor With Solar

The solar-ready Sense Energy Monitor lets you compare side-by-side in a single view the amount of solar energy generated by your panels and how much electricity your household consumes. This data helps you maximize your solar usage and reduce the amount of electricity you buy from the grid. 

Sense Energy Monitor with Solar – Track Electricity Usage and Solar Production in Real Time Meets Rigorous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
612 Reviews
Sense Energy Monitor with Solar – Track Electricity Usage and Solar Production in Real Time Meets Rigorous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
  • SENSE SAVES: Sense saves you energy and money by providing insight into your home's energy use and activity. NOW SUPPORTING TIME-OF-USE RATE PLANS.
  • MAXIMIZE YOUR SOLAR ENERGY USE: Compare solar production and energy consumption side-by-side in a single view so you can maximize the power you make and minimize the power you buy.
  • SEE WHAT’S UP. KNOW WHAT’S ON: Track how much electricity you’re using, what time your kids got home, or when someone leaves the basement light on. Sense identifies patterns in your energy use to help your family be more efficient, informed, and secure.
  • AVOID DISASTER: Set custom notifications for critical devices, like your sump pump, well pump, or flat iron.
  • MEETS RIGOROUS SAFETY STANDARDS: Sense’s components and system have been designed and ETL/Intertek certified for installation and operation inside the electrical panel. Sense is not currently available or compatible outside the United States and Canada.

The sensors can also identify energy usage patterns and track home energy consumption by different appliances so that you and your family can be more informed and energy-efficient. 

The Emporia Vue unit above also can track solar with it by default, there’s no need to upgrade it like the Sense.

I also use the Emporia Vue modules in the netzero home renovations we’ve done here, mainly due to the lower cost.

aerial view of net-zero house with solar panels on the roof
Our first net-zero affordable home renovation was completed in 2020. The efficiency measures and solar system were designed to power the house and an electric car 100%, with a total payback of about 6 years.

Eyedro Home Solar & Energy Monitor

The Eyedro Home Solar & Energy Monitor has two 200A sensors to track power consumption and record appliance start-up spikes. This solar-ready monitor also tracks real-time usage data. In addition, you can customize it to notify you in the event of a power failure. 

Eyedro Home Solar & Energy Monitor

The Eyedro Home Solar & Energy Monitor is a solar-ready energy monitoring device that lets you compare solar power generated with energy consumed over 24 hours, 30 days, or 12 months.

Sale
Eyedro Home Energy Monitor | Solar Energy & Net Metering | Save Money on Electricity | Track Power Use via My.Eyedro.com (No Fee) | Bills & Reports | Real-Time Energy Data & History | EYEFI-2 (WIFI)
472 Reviews
Eyedro Home Energy Monitor | Solar Energy & Net Metering | Save Money on Electricity | Track Power Use via My.Eyedro.com (No Fee) | Bills & Reports | Real-Time Energy Data & History | EYEFI-2 (WIFI)
  • MONITOR YOUR SOLAR USAGE with the EYEFI-2 and its Two 200A Sensors. Check your solar usage to minimize electricity usage and maximize solar use. The EYEFI-2 supports Solar and Net Metering. Uses North American Power Supply (120VAC). The EYEFI-2 includes a Module, 2 Sensors and a North American Power Adapter.
  • YOUR ELECTRICITY, YOUR WAY! My Eyedro is the most detailed and reliable source to view your usage. You can customize the rate to match your utility. The EYEFI-2 is a Single phase Electricity Monitor.

You can use this data to optimize your solar usage and reduce the power required from your utility service provider. 

8. Install Programs and Timers To Manage Energy Usage

Some smart whole-home energy consumption monitors have programs installed to manage appliances and energy usage. 

For instance, you can program monitors with built-in timers to power off devices after running for some time or at specific times of the day. Or, you can program your energy monitor to power off select appliances—by just tapping on your phone screen—when you leave home.

The Kasa Smart Plug lets you power on and off any outlet from a remote location using Alexa or Google Smart Assistant. In addition, this Wi-Fi monitor allows you to program timers and schedulers to control energy consumption by the appliances. 

Kasa Smart Plug Mini with Energy Monitoring, Smart Home Wi-Fi Outlet Works with Alexa, Google Home & IFTTT, Wi-Fi Simple Setup, No Hub Required (KP115), White – A Certified for Humans Device
11,696 Reviews
Kasa Smart Plug Mini with Energy Monitoring, Smart Home Wi-Fi Outlet Works with Alexa, Google Home & IFTTT, Wi-Fi Simple Setup, No Hub Required (KP115), White – A Certified for Humans Device
  • Voice Control: Add voice control to any outlet. Kasa smart plugs that work with Alexa and Google Home Assistant. Enjoy the hands-free convenience of controlling any home electronic appliances with your voice via Alexa or Hey Google.
  • Certified for Humans – Smart home made easy for non-experts. Setup with Alexa is simple.
  • Energy Monitoring & Scheduling: Monitor every consumption of your plug-in devices and set timers and schedules to avoid waste for lamps, fan, humidifier, Christmas lights etc.
  • Smart Outlet Control from Anywhere: Turn electronics on and off from anywhere with your smartphone using the Kasa app, whether you are at home, in the office or on vacation.
  • Easy Set Up and Use: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection required. Plug in, open the Kasa app, follow the simple instructions and enjoy with the wifi smart plug.

The Kasa Smart Plug helps prevent energy wastage by lamps, fans, Christmas lights, humidifiers, and other appliances.

Final Word

The amount of tech you want to install to monitor your home energy consumption depends on the degree of monitoring you want to achieve and the conveniences you seek. 

Smart plugs work well if you have a few energy-guzzling appliances to monitor. However, you need a whole-house energy monitor if you want a detailed picture of your home’s energy situation or have strict energy-saving goals.

Home energy monitors with a voice control feature and apps that initiate actions to control appliances remotely are handy in homes where mobility-challenged individuals may live.

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