Efergy Energy Meter

I received this little gadget as a Christmas present, but wanted to leave a month before writing a review so that I could test it as much as possible.

The Efergy Energy Meter is a device that you use to monitor how much electricity you're using in your house. You're probably asking the question, "I have an electricity meter already - why do I want another one?". Well, probably the biggest advantage of this device is its portability. The device is wireless, meaning that you can carry it around from room to room, switching stuff on and off - and it'll give you an immediate guide to its power consumption. It also has some wizzy features, such as historical data and an alarm system if someone in your house likes gobbling power, it's all here. By knowing what gobbles the juice and what doesn't, you can either time your appliances (in the case of having Economy 7), so that it results in cheaper electricity bills or do your bit for climate-change by generally using less, depending on your motivation.

Installation is exceedingly easy. The device comes in two parts - the CPU box (with all the data in it), along with a sensor. The sensor has a couple of magnets on it (at least, that's what they appear to be). This manages to measure the flow of power going through the cable that's feeding your electricity meter. The sensor feeds a reading back to your CPU box every six seconds, so you can get live updates of what's going on.

The device is powered by 4 AAA batteries - 2 for the sensor and 2 for the receiver CPU box. Naturally, as you're in the business of saving energy, you can use rechargables. They appear to have a life of about two weeks. Luckily, when you pop a set out of the CPU box and put in a new set the data isn't lost - obviously a big relief. You can have multiple sensors (up to 3, I think), each feeding data back to the box - useful if you have multiple supplies, or pay the bill for a couple of places (although I have no idea on what the range is like).

Before you start using the device, you can set up some basics. For example, you can enter how much a unit of electricity costs, when (or if) the you're-using-far-too-much-electricity-alarm should kick in (mine is set at 5kw), date, time and also the CO2 consequences of using one kilowatt-hour of electricity. As you might have gathered, this allows you to monitor your CO2 emissions too.

Kettle / Efergy Meter
Above: The kettle's doing kettle-type things, but it's also gobbling about 2.6kw of that 2.9kw on my meter...

Once set up, you simply leave it. The little box will store your consumption history for usage later. If you like, you can get a breakdown of how your energy usage varies by day, week or year. You can also get an indicator of the cost - useful if you want to take some of the guesswork out of your next electricity bill.

Having had this running for a while, I've noticed a few things:

i) When my fridge starts up, it seems to gobble about 1.2kw of electricity for the first couple of seconds. I've subsequently found out that all fridges do something like this - you can buy a special plug that'll stop it, so it consumes less juice.

ii) Even small scale devices such as my Wii, computer monitor and router use a not so ignorable amount of energy if not switched off at the plug after each use.

The next step is seeing if it's possible to plug the device onto my solar generation system - I'd actually be quite interested to find out how much the system is saving me. In the meantime, I have now made a few changes that are probably saving me about 1kw/hr a day, meaning that in not too long the device probably pays for itself. I think I've managed to get my electricity usage down to about £4/week, which I don't think is bad when you consider that energy bills have continued to increase. I was spending that much about 15 years ago when I moved out of my parents place.

You may be questioning as to whether the expenditure on such a device is worth it. My answer would be that if in my piddly little house, I can save a quid or two, then just about everyone else probably has the potential to save more. You'd only need to save a pound per week and this would quickly repay the investment, even if you're not one of those tree-hugger types who wants to monitor their CO2 output.

If you want to see more details, you can always have a look at Efergy's official site - here, but in the meantime, I'd say it's been pretty useful.
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