Do smart energy gadgets actually save you money?

In times of panic, rational thought goes out the window. In a desperate bid to save money on energy bills, some Brits may be tempted to go to extreme lengths.

Recent research found that 30% of people are prepared to go without adequate heating this winter, should winter bills go over £1000. With the average household energy bill reaching £ 1,239, many could be spiralling into fuel poverty.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and in the hope of saving money Brits may turn to energy gadgets.

Energy gadgets are widely available, but can you benefit from them financially?

E.ON has recently introduced a new ìEnergy Fit Planî which includes a free energy monitor. The  ìEnergy Fit Planî has no contract and no penalty fees. 

The Government plans to install smart meters in homes, replacing 53 million gas and electricity metres. The aim of the gadget is to reduce carbon emissions nationally by 35% and save UK households around £23 per year by 2020. They are the next generation of meters and will collect information about the energy use at regular intervals. This means more accurate bills based on the exact amount of energy you use, and no more meter readings. It will also help you see how much energy is being used in your home in real time.

The Energy Saving Trust suggests that the full roll-out of smart meters is likely to start from the middle of next year. British Gas has already begun installing smart meters.

Energy Monitors

An energy monitor is designed to allow you to keep a watchful eye on your energy consumption. They are significantly different to smart meters and these gadgets can be purchased from anything around £40-£100. Smart meters are supplied to you by the energy supplier so they can take accurate readings. An energy monitor is for your personal benefit. Energy monitors display your energy use in terms of cost and power.

The Energy Saving Trust believes that UK households spend £40 a year on wasted energy by leaving electrical goods on standby. In small scale trials of home energy monitors, customers were found to save between 5% and 15% in the first year of owning an energy monitor. That could represent a saving of between £25 and £75 off a £500 bill.

Energy saving light bulbs

Over the last 10 years, energy saving light bulbs have taken off in a big way. The majority of UK homes use them as inefficient light bulbs are being phased out.   Lighting accounts for 8% of the typical household energy bill and reducing your lighting bill is one of the fastest ways of saving money.

Fitting one energy light bulb could save you an average of £3 a year. If you swapped all the inefficient bulbs in your home you could save an average of £55 a year.

An inefficient bulb would be greater than 100W. Halogen bulbs are slightly more efficient than traditional bulbs. Of course, the easiest way of saving money is by switching a light off. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you ëalwaysí save money by turning off a light ìeven it itís only for a minute or twoî.

Energy Monitoring Socket

An energy-monitoring socket is a small-scale energy monitor. You can measure the energy use of individual appliances with an energy socket, as well as the cost. Much like an energy monitor it calculates how much energy is used in real time. You can also work out the cost per hour, day, week, month and sometimes per year.

They are simple to use and involve you plugging the socket into the mains, setting a time and cost per kilowatt (hourly is the format most bills will use) and simply plugging in the appliance you want to monitor. Energy monitoring sockets start from around £10 and you can also buy multi sockets to plug in multiple appliances such as your TV, DVD box, Sky box and games consoles.

Switch Supplier

Ultimately, if you want to save money on your gas and electricity bills you should shop around to find cheaper deals from the cheapest supplier. By comparing tariffs and price plans you could find a deal that is better for your energy consumption and more suited to your circumstances. 

Now is one of the best times to switch energy suppliers. Over 5.4 million homes are currently living in fuel poverty and all 6 of the leading energy suppliers have increased their prices by up to 20%. Energy prices have increased by 42% since 2008, adding an extra £381 to household bills.

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