The 4 Best Home Energy Monitors of 2022

Our top choice is the Sense Home Energy Monitor for its ease of use.

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Person looking at an energy tracking app on smart phone

Oscar Wong / Getty

Most people who are serious about saving energy have considered investing in energy efficient appliances, switching to LED lightbulbs, and installing a programmable thermostat. If you’re ready to take your efforts to the next level, you many want to consider home energy monitor. These devices, usually about the size of a large mobile phone, are tucked inside your home’s electrical panel and are attached to the electrical main. They communicate data via wifi to show you how much energy your home is using overall, or in some cases, which devices in your house are hogging the most energy. This data allows you to figure out what you can do to improve and reduce usage (for example, maybe it’s time to upgrade that 15-year-old dryer).

Home energy monitors connect to a mobile or web-based app so you can see what’s happening in real time—or even double-check if you shut off a certain appliance when you’re away from home. If you have a solar home, you can see how much energy your panels are generating and compare your energy production with usage. Although installation generally is simple, most manufacturers clearly state it’s not a DIY project because you must attach the device to your home’s electrical panel, which contains live wires that represent a shock hazard.

Ahead, our top picks for home energy monitors:

Best Overall: Sense Energy Monitor

4.8
Sense Energy Monitor

Sense

Voice Control: Phillips Hue, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Power Usage: Less than 5 watts | Solar Ready: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

The base model of this popular brand is our top pick for its ease of use and full-featured capabilities. It tracks usage trends in real time by day, week, month, and utility billing cycle so you can figure out your patterns and make adjustments to how you use energy. You also can set energy goals by device or whole home, by day, or in dollars or watts. Over time, the device learns your home’s appliances based on their off/on cycles (typically, it learns 12 the first month, and 25 to 30 after a year of use). You even can add individual sensors to big users such as HVAC systems or pool pumps to keep a closer eye.

The app, which our tester found intuitive and easy to use, allows you to see what’s on when you’re not at home or send alerts in case you left the dryer on or the garage door open. The system can be used with smart plugs from TP-Link/Kasa and Wemo. For time-of-use plans, you can input your local rate zones for more accurate billing information.

"I was struck by the immediate utility of using Sense's Power Meter display to simply keep track of consumption and identify how much specific devices were using. A quick flick of the Christmas tree lights on and off, for example, revealed that I'm a really bad Treehugger who absolutely should finish up our transition to all LED lighting soon." ~ Sami Grover, Treehugger Writer

Best Budget: Emporia Energy Smart Home Energy Monitor

Emporia Smart Home Energy Monitor

Walmart

Final Verdict

Voice Control: No | Power Usage: Less than 3 watts | Solar Ready: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

If you’re looking for a real-time monitor that’s budget-priced, this device has plenty of features at a reasonable cost. The unit monitors total usage in real time, but you can add sensor bundles (purchased separately) to monitor up to 16 individual circuits to keep an eye on specific appliances such as your furnace, refrigerator or dishwasher.

The free app can be set to alert you to times when you are using peak energy or when things like sump pumps don’t turn off or on. In some markets, such as California and parts of Pennsylvania, you may be able to use the Utility Connect device instead, which plugs into any outlet and wirelessly monitors energy use without your having to hire an electrician for installation.

Best for Solar: Efergy Engage Hub Kit

Efergy Engage Hub Kit

Efergy

Voice Control: No | Power Usage: Less than 0.001 watts | Solar Ready: Yes | Warranty: 1 year

Use the free app or website to monitor usage in real time, set a budget goal, and get feedback on energy costs for the day, week, or month with this solar-ready device at a budget-friendly price point. You also can get data from up to 5 circuits (modules sold separately) if you want to monitor specific devices.

Unlike most other monitors that are installed inside the electrical panel, this one places a battery-operated transmitter inside the panel to send information to a hub that’s plugged directly into your router so it’s typically a quick and straightforward installation.

Best Smart Plug: Kasa Smart Plug Ultra Mini ‎EP10P2

4.7
Kasa Smart Plug Ultra Mini ‎EP10P2

Amazon

Voice Control: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Power Usage: Not listed | Solar Ready: Not applicable | Warranty: 2 years

If you’re not in the market for a whole home monitoring system, you’ll find these smart plugs are a useful option for individual appliances. You can turn lamps on so you don’t have to come home to a dark house, or double-check to make sure you didn’t forget to turn off your curling iron, coffee pot, or Christmas tree lights.

Use the free app to control the outlet from anywhere, to monitor a device’s real-time power consumption, or set up schedules to turn connected outlets off and on. The plugs work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so you can use voice controls, too.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is Sense Home Energy Monitor because of its full-featured functionality, ease of use, and user-friendly app. But the Emporia Gen 2 VUE Whole Home Energy Monitor is a budget-friendly home energy monitor with solid features and expansion capabilities if you later decide to add modules to monitor specific devices.

What to Look for in Home Energy Monitors

Real-Time Monitoring

This allows you to see how much energy you’re using as you’re using it.

Appliance Recognition

Appliances have different ways of using energy, so this feature allows you to see which appliances hog the most. However, the feature isn’t 100% foolproof and tends to be somewhat hit and miss. For example, some appliances that use electricity in a similar way (such a heating device like a toaster or curling iron) are more difficult to differentiate from each other.

Real-time Cost Tracking

Some monitors show the cost of energy consumption as you use it, so you can figure out the effects of turning devices on and off on your bill.

Solar Ready

This allows you to monitor your solar power production and/or usage.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How does a home energy monitor help the environment?

    These monitors help you identify energy-hogging appliances or bad habits (such as leaving electronics which consume standby power plugged in when not in use) so you can take steps to reduce your usage. Using less energy conserves natural resources and reduces the need to burn fuels such as coal and oil that can contribute to air and water pollution.

  • Do home energy monitors require a professional electrician to install?

    Although some monitors include DIY instructions, all manufacturers (including the ones that offer DIY tips!) recommend hiring a licensed electrician for installation. That’s because the device must be attached to the live wires feeding into your electrical panel, which represents a serious shock hazard.

  • Do home energy monitors waste energy?

    Not at all. They typically use from .001 to 5 watts, so it’s not a major contributor to your home’s overall energy consumption.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger wants to help our readers use energy in a responsible manner to conserve our natural resources.

Writer Arricca SanSone specializes in writing about home, shelter, and gardening. She researched the market based on data from the Department of Energy, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, user testing, and consumer feedback.

View Article Sources
  1. "Planning Energy Improvements." Smarter House.

  2. Meier, Alan. "Standby Power.Standby Power, Building Technology and Urban Systems Division.