The most capable energy monitor is the Emporia Vue, which can monitor individual circuits in your home rather than just take on overall reading of consumption. It will then tell you what actions you ought to take.
The OWL Intuition-E can provide data on consumption during specific timeframes, though it doesn't actively encourage you to make changes.
If you've already got a smart home hub, then cheaper options like the Frient can provide solid usage data, while smart plugs like the TP-Link Tapo are good for gauging the consumption of single devices.
Which is the best energy monitor?
|Price||Works with single phase||Works with solar panels|
|Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor||£129.99||Yes||Yes|
|Frient Electricity Meter Interface||£65.05||Yes||No|
|TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring||£14.99||Yes||No|
Verdict: Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor
The Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor is the best overall tool for monitoring your energy consumption. It allows you to take measurements from separate circuits in your home and will also check how your solar panels are doing.
While we like the OWL and its user-friendly website, the subscription required after two years is a little off-putting.
How can energy monitors save money
Energy monitors allow customers to see how much energy they're using at different times of day.
These small devices have sensors that record how much current is flowing through cables, enabling customers to understand energy usage and avoid big bills.
People who want to see how much energy they're using and who want to make small, positive changes to their energy usage could benefit from an energy monitor. Combining them with a cheaper energy deal can help to save even more.
By switching appliances off around the home, users can see how much those appliances impact their energy usage. This can give them more control over their bills by helping them switch off power-hungry items when they're not being used.
Energy monitors allow for budgeting and show long-term trends as well as real-time information.
Energy monitors vs smart meters
Energy monitors are not the same as smart meters.
While energy monitors are used by customers to understand their energy usage, smart meters are installed by energy companies to track and report a household's energy usage.
An energy monitor can be used to accompany a smart meter, in some cases providing more detailed information, such as budgeting and historical data.
They can also provide something to compare the energy supplier's figures with.
Some first-generation smart meters no longer work if a household switches to another supplier. An energy monitor can fill the information gap left by these 'dumb' meters.
Many homes still have no smart meter at all - the government's current goal is to have suppliers install the devices in at least 85% of homes by 2025. An energy monitor provides a way for those without a smart meter to keep an eye on their energy usage.
1. Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor
Best for: Whole house energy monitoring with up to 16 circuits from the consumer unit, with or without solar generation.
|Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor||£129.99||Android or iOS app||8 (up to 16 available)||Yes|
- Can monitor individual circuits
- Actionable notifications
- Clamps are fairly bulky
- Software can lag
The Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor comes with eight sensors to monitor individual circuits in your home for a clearer idea of where your energy is going.
The one second refresh rate means usage information is always up-to-date, meaning changes you make are that much more effective.
The Vue is installed in the consumer unit using CT sensor clamps that go around the mains and any other circuits you wish to monitor.
The Vue ships with two 200A sensors for the service mains and 8 x 50A sensors. Alternatively, you can pay an extra £40 for a bundle containing another 8 x 50A sensors.
It's worth making sure you buy the right bundle from the outset, as extra sensors will need to be shipped from the US, where Emporia is based.
The Vue is compatible with solar panels, with built-in solar net metering able to tell you when - and how much - excess energy you are producing is going back to the grid.
The Vue software allows you to gauge real-time spending, and to see historical data by day, month and year.
If you allow it, Vue will send actionable notifications to your smartphone via the app. These give clear calculations showing your savings when you perform the recommended actions.
While there are no additional costs once you've purchased a suitable Emporia bundle, it's worth mentioning that Emporia also sells smart plugs that can help monitor the energy consumption of small 240V appliances.
These plugs enable you to set timers, schedules, or turn them on and off remotely via the Emporia app.
|Size||23 x 13 x 17cm|
|Refresh rate||1 second|
2. OWL Intuition-E
Best for: Whole house energy monitoring, but limited to just one circuit on a single phase system.
|OWL Intuition-E||£89.95||Web, Android or iOS app||1 (up to 3 available)||No|
- Intuitive website
- Helps reduce consumption
- Doesn't work with solar panels
- Subscription required after two years
The Owl Intuition-E is a cloud-based energy monitor that automatically logs all of your consumption data and presents it back to you in an easy-to-digest format via smartphone or browser.
The downside is that, after two years, you need to pay for a subscription to continue using it.
The Owl allows monitoring of single-phase electricity supply usage over a property, and it supports Economy 7 timed tariffs.
What it won't do is work with solar panels or the three-phase supplies common in commercial environments.
Installation is straightforward - the Network OWL gateway plugs into your existing broadband router and wirelessly links with the transmitter and sensor.
The Intuition online dashboard provides access to your energy data.
You can see live readings at 12-second intervals and a historical representation of your usage. Data is presented in graphs that are easy to read, with plenty of export options and analysis.
Most importantly, however, it's easy to see what you have spent over a day, week, or month. If you subsequently make changes to your consumption, the dashboard can tell you if you have improved your usage habits.
The dashboard is best viewed in a browser. There is an associated app, but it's not quite as good.
The OWL Dashboard and apps are available along with cloud data storage for the first two years after purchase.
Beyond that, you'll need to pay £19.95 for a two-year subscription for continued access.
The OWL ships with a standard sensor clamp that connects to an electricity cable less than 15mm and 130A. You'll need to buy a separate large sensor clamp for thicker cables with greater amperage.
|Size||25 x 13 x 6.5cm|
|Refresh rate||12 seconds|
3. Frient Electricity Meter Interface
Best for: Whole house energy monitoring for those with a blinking LED light on their meters, and a Zigbee hub such as SmartThings or Homey.
|frient Electricity Meter Interface||£65.05||App based via a smart hub||1||No|
- Easy to install
- Relatively cheap
- Requires a smart hub
We like the relative simplicity of the Frient Electricity Meter Interface. Provided you already have a smart home meter, you can have it out of the box and sending readings within minutes.
The Frient is compatible with electricity meters that have a blinking LED light with a standard output rate of 1000 pulses/kWh.
You can mount the interface on the face of your meter easily and without tools - a far less intimidating prospect than clamping individual cables.
The Frient Electricity Meter Interface is Zigbee-certified and works with Zigbee hubs, such as Homey and SmartThings. If your hub has Google Assistant, then the Frient can be voice activated.
The Frient collects readings from your existing electricity meter and, via a compatible hub, sends the data to a connected device.
The Frient can identify energy peaks in your home and enable you to start moving some of your consumption to off-peak periods.
You can also receive notifications when there's a sudden spike in consumption. This can help you identify - and then repair - broken appliances.
You need a compatible hub for the Frient to work. If you don't, a SmartThings hub will cost you just under £50.
Frient also make smart plugs if you want to monitor the energy consumption of specific devices. Like the meter interface, these need a hub to work.
|Size||11.5 x 7 x 3.5cm|
|Refresh rate||5 seconds|
4. TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring
Best for: Monitoring the energy consumption of just one appliance.
|TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring||£9.99||Android or iOS app||N/a||No|
- Doesn't need a hub
- Very cheap
- Only monitors one appliance
The TP-Link Tapo smart plug is a simple way to monitor the energy consumption of any single appliance with a plug.
It's a good option if you have concerns about how much energy a device is using, and want control over when it is turned on and off.
Because the plug is wi-fi enabled, it can communicate directly with your smartphone via the Tapo app. All you need is a wi-fi router and a smartphone running at least Android 4.4 or iOS 9.0.
TP-Link Tapo smart plug has built in wi-fi and is operated via the Tapo App. You can view consumption by day, month, year, or just as an average for the past hour. Summaries are provided in the form of bar charts and graphs.
The app can also be used to automatically power appliances on and off as needed.
If you don't want to use the app, the plug can be voice controlled once it is added to a Google or Alexa-enabled hub.
If you want to monitor the consumption of more than one device simultaneously, you'll need to buy more plugs.
|Size||5.15 x 6 x 7.25cm|
Summary: Which energy monitor is best?
Given the cost of energy, it's a good move to find out which devices are costing you the most.
The Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor will help you bring down your overall energy spend, and we like that it actively encourages you to make changes via notifications.
The OWL has many of the same features as the Emporia. However, while it's initially cheaper, the subscription means you'll have paid the same amount for it in six years' time - in which case you're better off with the Emporia.
If you already have a smart home hub and a compatible electricity meter, the Frient rewards you with a good stream of data with virtually no set-up stress.
The TP-Link Tapo smart plug is a similarly hassle-free device, though it can only monitor a single appliance. As a home energy monitor it's only really useful if you're willing to move it from socket to socket around the home and do the calculations yourself.