I started the year reviewing Efergy’s e2 eLink energy monitor, and since then my energy bills have gone through my insulated roof.
This isn’t the fault of the e2 energy monitor – far from it. The e2 has almost certainly led to our house becoming more energy efficient, as it helps us understand which devices and lights use the most electricity, and when. The money-burning kitchen downlights don't get flicked on so often, and we make sure the kettle isn't over filled before boiling. See: Energy-saving tips around the home
Sadly but inevitably energy prices keep going up, and this makes monitoring your electricity usage even more important for saving money and, you know, saving the planet and stuff.
The e2 worked with basic eLink software that enabled you to track your electricity usage on your PC or Mac.
Now Efergy has released the more sophisticated Engage online interface, a brighter more user-friendly web browser screen to track household energy usage on your computer and via your smartphone.
With its new iOS and Android apps Efergy Engage gives you true access to real-time and historical electricity usage data.
Installing the energy monitor
First you need to set up the minimal hardware.
The Engage hubs are simple to install. If you already have the e2 at home, you’re more than half way there already as it can use the same sensor.
New users have to clip a small sensor to the supply cables in the electicity meter's breaker panel – don’t panic anyone with fingers should be able to do this; you don’t need to be a whiz with wires. A lead from the sensor connects to the little Efergy transmitter, which then wirelessly sends real time data to the Engage hub.
The Engage hub connects to your Internet/Wi-Fi router via Ethernet.
Efergy Engage web interface
The Engage web interface features a dial showing Real Time Usage, a Budget calculator where you input your kWh unit rate, and a related Cost So Far. There's even a little box telling you the weather. Half the web screen is taken up with a graph showing Energy Demand over the past 24 hours, 30 days or 12 months.
This Engage graph is great. You’ll see every kettle boiled, ready-meal microwaved and load of clothes tumbled. You can choose to view your energy data in £s, kWh or CO2.
Efergy Engage app interface
You can get all this data either on your PC or Mac web browser or on Android or iOS app. This means you can be an energy usage enforcer even when away from home, and can be quite addictive – if slightly stalkerish if monitoring your family’s energy usage while away from home.
Use the data to cut energy bills
With this data you can easily monitor times of the day (and days of the week) where energy usage spikes, and look at making efficiencies. It’s also interesting to note that times when you’d expect minimal electricity usage – when you’re tucked up in bed, for instance – show up with activity on the graph.
To reduce your energy usage at these times try where possible to make sure that devices such as TVs, DVD players, printers, speakers and PCs are turned off and not sitting in standby mode.
Energy saving tip! Your fridge freezer will also be in use throughout day and night. There are tips to make your fridge or freezer more efficient – for example, by keeping it mostly full. Try to keep your fridge and freezer at least three quarters full – even if you use bottles of water to take up space. But don’t overfill, as this restricts the circulation of air around compartments.
The ability to set a monthly budget and to align the monitor with your electricity costs is tough to do completely accurately. This isn’t the fault of Efergy or its Engage platform. It’s down to the way that utility companies make their energy plans so complex with First and Next unit rates. The ability to add dual tariffs would be appreciated.
But you will, over time, be able to see the savings you’re making in pennies and pounds.
Efergy is planning on adding a social media widget so you can share your data with the online community. I’m not sure your Facebook friends will be delighted to get constant updates on your energy savings, but it will be a neat option.
Efergy Engage pricing
There are three options for the Efergy Engage hub.
Engage Hub Solo costs £39.95. This is for owners of the e2 energy monitor who can use their sensor and transmitter to work with Engage. The e2 will still work as a separate unit.
The Engage Hub Kit (£59.95) includes the hub and Ethernet cable you connect to your router, plus the sensor clip and transmitter.
The Engage Elite Hub Kit (£79.90) includes all the above plus an Elite Classic 1.0 compact, portable display.