Real-time energy monitor could cut UK household bills

UK households could significantly cut their energy bills by using a real-time energy monitor, a new study suggests.

A team from Edinburgh Napier University assessed the performance of 65 housing association homes, which were pre-fitted with a Ewgeco real-time energy monitor.

According to a statement, the results of the six-month trial showed that those that used the device consumed up to 20 per cent less gas than other households in the study.

‘Our findings demonstrate that in-house utility displays can offer a tangible means of energy reduction by enabling behavioural change,’ said study author John Currie, director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University.

The Ewgeco monitor’s traffic-light display of green, amber and red reportedly highlights real-time low, medium or high energy usage.

It is said to work with ordinary utility meters to provide households with instantaneous information on their gas, energy and water consumption.

Forty-three of the homes in the trial, which was funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, had the Ewgeco monitor clearly on display, while it was hidden in the remainder of the properties.

Researchers found that households that could see and use the energy-saving device consumed up to 20 per cent less gas and seven per cent less electricity compared with the properties with a hidden monitor.

In interviews, around 94 per cent of tenants also said that the device made them more aware of the energy they were using, while 73 per cent said it made them use less energy.

The study was the first of its kind in the UK involving a real-time energy monitor to track and monitor domestic gas and electricity consumption.

‘With the introduction of smart metering technologies in all homes in the UK by 2020, it is imperative that such devices be linked with easy-to-understand interactive user displays if national energy reduction targets are to be realised and not just seen as a means of providing utility suppliers with demand information,’ said Currie.