There are a variety of reasons you may want to monitor your electricity usage. For instance, you might be wondering whether the new heater you bought is power-hungry or how well your rooftop solar is helping you offset your electricity bills. Either way, when looking to gain a better understanding of your electricity usage it’s important to have the best possible information at hand. 

In this article, we’ll give the lowdown on electricity meters, electricity monitors, and how you can access the most up to date, real-time, useful usage data.

Types of electricity meters

Electricity meters measure the total amount of power consumed over a time period and are fixed to your residence. The amount of information available to you will vary based on your meter type. 

There are 3 main types of meters:

1. Accumulation Meters

Accumulation meters only keep track of your total electricity usage and don’t distinguish between on and off-peak times. They require a meter reader to come to the property every three months to check how much electricity has been used. These aren’t as common as they once were, however many households in Australia still have them. 

Accumulation meter - dial display
Image source: Ausgrid

2. Interval Meters

Interval meters record power usage at regular intervals, usually every 30 minutes, which enables retailers to charge different amounts depending on the time of day. 

Meter type E3
Image Source: Ausgrid

3. Smart Meters

If you’re in Victoria, you’ve most likely got one of these. 

Smarts meters are ‘smart’ in that they provide data to your electricity retailer and allow remote control, reducing maintenance costs and notifying your distributor of outages among other features. They replaced the old-style accumulation meters which have for the most part gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Smart meter
Image Source: Ausgrid

How can I check my electricity usage? 

You can check your electricity usage through your energy retailer, usually through their website or an app. Energy Australia, AGL, Origin for example offer customers data such as:

  • A breakdown of your electricity usage per billing period. 
  • If you have a smart meter you will also be able to see: 
    • A breakdown of half-hourly or hourly and daily energy costs.
    • Estimates of future use if you have a smart meter

This information is limited and often comes with a time delay of around 72 hours. 

In some cases, the only way to look at your data is by requesting a CSV export which is not the most user friendly.

Checking your energy usage using an energy monitor

As mentioned, the information available through your retailer is limited. The best way to really understand your power usage is to install an energy monitor

Note: If you don’t have a smart meter unfortunately an energy monitor is not something you can utilise currently, however you can request a smart meter from your retailer. 

An energy monitor interfaces with your smart meter to provide real-time access to your power consumption via an app. Ever wondered how much energy your dryer is actually using? Or what impact turning on your pool pump has on your energy bill? Installing an energy monitor allows you to access this information in real-time via your smartphone.

A Powerpal Energy Monitor

What is the best energy monitor? 

The important things you want in an energy monitor are accuracy, simplicity and storage capacity. With over 140,000 Australian homes already using it, the Powerpal energy monitor is the most trusted and best energy monitor in the market. Powerpal provides users with real-time stats and energy-saving tips that have helped Powerpal users save up to 15% on their energy bills. It’s so good, the Victorian Government offers Powerpal for free under the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) Program. If you’re outside of Victoria, a Powerpal can be purchased for $129. 

Can I get an energy monitor if I rent? 

Absolutely, you don’t have to own the property to be eligible for a Powerpal. 

How accurate are energy monitors? 

As Powerpal records the data logged by your smart meter the usage data reported in the app is very accurate – users typically report logged usage to be within 99% of smart meter reads.

Finally, why should I monitor my energy use? 

The more you know about your energy usage, the better you can manage it.

There are a few reasons you should monitor energy consumption in your home:

  • Saving money on bills  – the average Powerpal user saves up to 15% on their energy bills by monitoring their electricity usage and adjusting their behaviour accordingly. With today’s energy prices, everyone needs to be energy-smart to maximise their money and have enough left over for avocado on toast. 
  • Look after the environment – being aware of your energy usage is the first step in making better decisions for yourself and the environment. 
  • It’s the cool thing to do – over 140,000 homes in Australia are already using Powerpal to monitor their energy usage.