First, monitoring devices are not the same as smart meters. Smart meters send meter readings to your energy supplier so that you can get an accurate energy bill based on up-to-date energy use.

Energy monitoring devices help you to understand how much electricity you’re using by providing a display of energy consumption as it happens. They’re also known as In Home Devices (IHDs). A basic energy monitor usually shows your electricity use in kilowatt hours and by cost. Some models may also let you set targets, to help you reduce electricity use. Currently, there aren’t monitors available to check gas use.

It’s possible to save around 10% on your business electricity bill by making small, low effort changes. Understanding your energy use patterns is a first step on the way to being able to make those savings, so energy monitors can be a useful tool in your business. You’ll get to know what difference it makes switching on different pieces of office equipment, or even just the lights and the kettle.

How do energy monitoring devices work?

Suppliers often provide energy monitoring devices free for home use, but various models are available on the high street for prices from between £20 to £100.

They come in three parts:

– Sensor – clips to a power cable coming out of your electricity meter

– Transmitter – sends the data captured by the sensor to the display unit

– Display – shows you how much electricity you’re using, in kilowatt hours, cost and carbon emissions. This is usually handheld, so you can carry it around with you.

Use your energy monitoring device to save money

Start with benchmarking your basic electricity use, then look for any changes:

– Switch off everything that you can, and you’ll get a picture of how much energy you use as a starting point.

– Start switching on lights and devices, to see how your energy use increases.

– Look out for vampire devices – these may be old, or particularly inefficient pieces of equipment that are sucking up a lot of electricity.

– When you’re clear on the regular peaks and troughs of your electricity use throughout the working day, you can look out for any changes. Unexplained spikes could indicate that a device has been left on unnecessarily, or that something isn’t working properly.

If you have employees and you’re trying to drive more energy efficient behaviour, an energy monitor could help. It bridges the gap between use of electricity and cost, so helps you make the argument for more responsible energy use.

Consumer access devices

Consumer access devices (CADs) take the functionality of the energy monitoring device a step further. They bridge the gap between the Zigbee home area network that allows your smart meter to send readings, and the cloud. This means that you can make your energy use data available to apps that you can then check on your phone, laptop or desktop. A CAD can also help connect your smart meter to other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

While CADs aren’t yet widely used, they’re something to keep an eye on. As the smart meter rollout continues and time of use tariffs get introduced, an app that lets you keep a real time eye on your business energy use could help you get more control over your electricity use.

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