How smart devices can help reduce your energy use

With so many appliances in use all the time, monitoring your energy consumption can seem to be a difficult task. But with just a few smart devices, it’s not only possible, it’ll likely save you money, too.

One of the easiest ways to save money on household bills is to look closely at how much energy you’re using. While energy ratings on household appliances are useful when making buying decisions, knowing how much energy a device uses at any specific time can be tricky.

That’s where understanding a few basic facts about your energy bills – as well as using energy-monitoring technology – can make a big difference.

Start with your energy bill

When you look at your power bill, it’s important to understand there are two major components to the charges you see.

The main charge, firstly, is your energy consumption. This is the portion of the bill over which you have the most control. While your bill provides a summary of the charges, you can get a lot more information from smart meters, which are found in many homes. These collect your consumption data regularly, usually every 30 minutes, and securely send it to your energy provider, so you can get a detailed look at when you have used your energy.

Secondly, network charges cover the cost of the infrastructure that delivers electricity to your home, office or business. While your energy retailer collects these charges, they are passed back to the various companies that provide the services.

Check out your usage habits

As smart meters let you see energy use per half hour, you can look back at the data and see what parts of the day are your most energy-intense. For example, the Origin Energy App lets you clearly and easily see when you used your electricity.

Having easy access to this data allows you to think over how your behaviour is impacting your energy use – and, therefore, how much you’re paying.

Use smart plugs to monitor energy usage

Although the Energy Star rating system is familiar to many of us, it only gives us a relative rating for comparing devices. Origin Energy’s Good Energy Report III found that the majority of people are looking for ways to better monitor their energy use so they can make better decisions about their power consumption.

So, if you really want to know how much energy is used by a specific electrical item, you can use a smart plug. While most smart plugs are used simply as automated timers, many can also measure the flow of electricity to particular appliances, so you can better understand how energy is being consumed around your home.

The TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug is one such device, displaying how much energy an appliance is using and how that consumption has been tracking over time, giving you the opportunity to make informed choices about your energy use. For example, you can then program it to switch devices off overnight, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.

Take advantage of solar panel info

Although the report found that installation of solar panels is closely tied to home ownership, solar panel inverters are a great source of live energy-use information. The majority of inverters can connect to your home wireless network and provide live data you can view on your smartphone. When you turn on the dishwasher, gaming console or air-con, you can instantly see how much energy it uses.

Energy-monitoring technology is now accessible to almost everyone. Whether by looking at data collected by a smart meter and delivered through your energy retailer, or by installing some inexpensive energy-monitoring smart plugs, it’s possible to get a detailed understanding of the energy consumption around your home. You can then choose whether to update appliances or simply change the way you use your appliances.

That will help you save money in the long run – and of course reduce your impact on the environment as well.

Want to learn more?

Find out how demand management programs, like Origin Spike, are gamifying energy-saving habits and rewarding households on episode three of our podcast, So Watt?

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