Have remote working, hybrid schooling, and other recent shifts amped up your power consumption at home? It’s amazing how quickly usage — and electric bills — can add up with multiple people using multiple devices in multiple rooms.
If you’re already using an electricity usage monitor, you’re one step ahead! You’re able to identify problem areas and energy hogs; now you need workable solutions. Figuring out how to use the right energy at the right time is easier said than done. While an electricity usage monitor provides valuable insights, a smart circuit breaker takes that to the next level — helping you implement a strategic action plan for a complete home energy management system. In short, it takes all that data and translates it into an energy savings plan to reduce your electric bill.
Cost savings alone should motivate most homeowners to conserve power. According to EnergySage, implementing energy-efficient technology and practices can reduce your annual home utility bill by anywhere from 5 to 30%, or $105 to $627 on average.
Why is it Important to Monitor Your Power Usage?
Cut your carbon footprint and reduce your monthly electricity bills. Save money and save the planet. Energy conservation is a win-win and common sense. So why aren’t we all doing it?
Mindful energy consumption is about more than just good intentions. It’s making a commitment to closely monitor electric use in your home, hunt down energy-draining culprits, change your power-hungry ways — and then to implement an effective system for improving efficiency. That’s why an electric usage meter makes sense as a first step. After installing a meter you’ll learn how to monitor electric usage at different times of day, in different rooms and on different home appliances and devices. Before long you’ll get a good sense of patterns and be motivated to make changes.
Even if you’re mindful about turning off light switches and turning down the thermostat, it’s easy to forget about all the devices draining “phantom power” in their downtime. Devices that use remote controls (like TVs and stereos), chargers (like cable boxes and routers) or continuous displays (like your microwave) run down energy and rack up kilowatts hours. Remember that many plugged in appliances use power, even in standby mode. Depending on where you live in the United States, phantom power accounts for anywhere from 6% to as much as 23% of home electricity use! Learn more about always on devices and phantom power from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In addition to detecting phantom or vampire power, an electricity monitor can track peak vs off-peak usage. If you live in a state or region of the country under TOU (Time-of-Use) rates, you pay different prices per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity, depending on when you use it (time of day, season and weekday vs weekend). Tracking peak vs off-peak usage can teach you the cheapest times of day to run your dishwasher, do laundry or use an air conditioner. With TOU rates, the small cost of a device to monitor electricity usage will be paid back tenfold.
By using smart technology to track and reduce energy consumption, homeowners can see dramatic savings. Case in point: The owner of a new AirBnb needed an effective way to manage his guests’ energy consumption and get real-time data immediately alerting him of power outages or drains. In addition to a device to monitor usage, he installed the Lumin smart panel as part of a complete smart energy management system to measure power at the circuit level and take control of costs. Thanks to his new smart breaker box equipped with Wi-Fi and remote technology, he was able to sense upticks in usage, detect energy hogs, turn off appliances remotely, shed loads in off-grid mode, and more. Read here how he was able to slash his whopping power bills down from $1500 to a mere $30 monthly by optimizing his solar + storage system with Lumin: Lumin® Energy Management Platform Deploys ‘Power Where Needed.’
While there are several different devices to monitor electricity usage, the two most common are the ones covered here.
What is an Electricity Usage Monitor (EUM)?
EUMs sense, measure and display your home’s electricity usage in real time — so you can see precisely how much power is being sucked up by which devices and appliances. It’s a fairly simple sensor that clips onto a power cable connected to your electricity meter. When shopping for an EUM, a.k.a. a power meter plug or power consumption meter, you can consider either individual or whole-house options.
Some power usage monitors are DIY-friendly while others require professional installation. Certain models monitor solar usage and many integrate with smart home devices. While there are different kinds of EUMs to choose from, they all generally accomplish the same thing: They make you think about your energy usage!
One of the simplest and most popular devices, Kill A Watt EZ, is a plug load monitor (so named because it plugs into an outlet and then the appliance plugs into it). You can track your electrical usage by day, week, month or year and assess the efficiency of your appliances and devices. Plug-in power meters are simple and affordable. On the higher end, the Sense energy monitor provides insight into your home’s entire power usage. Placed in your electrical breaker box, it measures the power flowing from your electric meter to your breakers and detects changes in load to identify the footprint of different devices. Sense then transmits the data through a Wi-Fi antenna to your app or desktop. There are two Sense home energy monitors: the standard Sense unit and the Sense Solar.
Benefits of an Electricity Usage Monitor
Connected to your electricity meter, an EUM provides useful data — which can then be used to save energy and energy costs. It also does useful detective work and answers questions like: Which appliances and devices draw the most power?
Real-Time Monitoring: You can see how much power is being drawn on the spot. Rather than waiting for an electricity bill or meter reading, you can make decisions about which devices to turn on or off, where and when you like.
Efficient Data Gathering: The most obvious benefit of the EUM is that it does the detective work and gathers the data for you. Equipped with this data, you can then analyze your electricity bills and figure out the best times of day or night to use which devices and home appliances.
Smart Energy Sense: Keeping an eye on the usage meter helps keep power consumption in check — by raising awareness and changing the behavior of homeowners and (hopefully) other home dwellers. Family members can get in the game by experimenting with turning power-hungry devices on and off, recording the data and comparing utility bills month to month. It’s never too early to instill a sense of environmental responsibility!
In short, EUMS let you:
- See how much energy you’re using at different times of day
- Identify device activity, power drains and phantom loads
- Discover which appliances use the most energy
Equipped with insights and data, you can then:
- Make a strategic plan to increase energy efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and lower your bills
Power Meter Disadvantages
While a power consumption meter does not save energy (their job is to monitor power, not reduce it), they do make you aware of how much you’re using.
There are no disadvantages to using an HEM or EUM, but it’s important to remember that a power meter is only effective if you know what to do with the data being collected. In other words, a meter is a good first step. To maximize its effectiveness, consider integrating a smart circuit breaker to take your green energy management to the next level.
By upgrading with a smart circuit breaker you can optimize the overall benefits of the insights gained from your power meter data.
What is a Smart Circuit Breaker?
Basically, a smart circuit breaker is like an EUM boosted with smart technology. It has the functionality of an ordinary breaker (it regulates the flow of electricity to the circuits in your home) — plus the intelligence of a usage monitor with the convenience of remote-control automation. So you can see exactly how much energy you’re using and then turn devices on and off from wherever you are. The most advanced models also handle load management for your entire microgrid. By automating power consumption at the breaker level, a smart electrical panel optimizes the energy efficiency of your home across the board. What’s more, an integrated Wi-Fi hub lets you manage it all from your smartphone.
By providing meter usage readings for each circuit, a smart breaker panel gives you greater knowledge, flexibility and control. It gives you a better sense of which appliances and electrical devices use the most energy — and the ability to proactively make cost-cutting decisions with the flip of a switch (or the swipe of an iPhone).
Why Smart Circuit Breakers are Superior to HEMs and EUMs
So why not just stick with a reliable, old-school HEM (home energy monitor) or EUM (electricity usage monitor)? Because they only provide the data — leaving you to come up with a solution on your own. To really cut costs, you need to implement an action plan that gets results. That’s where smart circuit breakers prove their worth.
At the forefront of green energy management, smart circuit breakers take monitoring power usage to the next level. Why choose this new generation of technology for your home?
They are “smart” — intelligent and responsive, they not only sense, they accurately measure energy signatures from different appliances and are capable of managing complex loads. They are multi-taskers — they do what a regular breaker does but more, doubling as a power meter and synching with your smartphone or Wi-Fi to identify consumption for each circuit in your home. They go the extra mile — first they help identify the problem areas and then implement cost-saving solutions. They are empowering — they help you take control of your power consumption!
A smart breaker box makes a lot of sense if you’re looking for a seamless system for energy monitoring, management and conservation. What’s more, it can be integrated to create a whole-home battery backup system. This is especially valuable now that more and more people are working from home. These devices can:
- Improve energy efficiency throughout your home
- Avoid power outages — due to extreme weather or overuse during pandemics
- Provide backup power and restore power
- Give control to you, the homeowner!
Lumin for Responsive Home Energy Management
What do we mean by “responsive” home energy management? A flexible, nimble system that can quickly respond to real-time data on your home energy usage — and anything that comes up. Powered by smart technology, it can sense problems before they arise and be operated virtually from any place — all with a smartphone app.
The Lumin smart panel system does just that. It makes regular circuits responsive to things like grid outages, solar production, battery state of charge, electricity pricing and even schedules that can improve home efficiency. With Lumin you can transform your solar power battery into a personal microgrid and direct power when and where it’s needed.
How does it work? Lumin’s smart home electrical panels let you choose which circuits to support with energy storage. Easily installed by a certified electrician, Lumin sits next to your home’s electrical panel, and enables load toggling and whole-home backup. Through a smartphone app, you can manage your energy usage and proactively protect your home batteries — before they run out of juice.
Are you looking for a reliable, responsive system to handle the growing demands of home energy management? Check out Lumin’s smart panel technology, which can be integrated to create a whole home battery backup system. With whole-home battery backup, the Lumin system restores power during outages, protects home batteries, and delivers flexible energy management.
With Lumin smart panels, your solar and energy storage systems work together seamlessly. In a grid outage, Lumin immediately sheds heavy loads to maximize battery charge. As the battery recharges and more stored energy is available, circuits can be brought back online. The app makes it easy for you to make decisions, virtually flip a switch, and take control — wherever you are.