Posted by: Frank Eakin |

How To Track Electricity Usage

If you’ve ever paid an electricity bill in Texas, you may know how crucial it can be to monitor your power usage. While you might learn some information about your monthly energy percentages through your account bill, there are some additional steps you can take to discover which individual devices require the most energy. With this information, you’ll be empowered to make smarter energy-saving decisions. Read on to find out how to track electricity usage in Texas and what to do with this information.

What Does It Mean To Track Electricity Usage?

Tracking electricity usage is simply the process of learning more about which household appliances and devices require the most energy. Your monthly bill can describe your overall usage, but it won’t always give you the detailed descriptions you require. With some simple devices or applications, you can maximize your knowledge about your everyday usage, allowing you to make any necessary cuts or modifications.

Why Is It Important To Track Electricity Usage?

You may wonder why it’s essential to learn more about your home’s electricity usage. Here are some benefits you can experience when you track your home’s energy consumption:

Increases Your Knowledge

One of the most important benefits you can experience when you track your electricity usage is increased knowledge about the way your electrical system functions. While you can always guess what causes high bills, it can be better to have concrete information so that you can make an informed decision. Additionally, tracking your usage can tell you more about your consumption habits and those of others in your household. You can then easily change some simple usage behaviors that may be costing you the most.

Evaluates Effectiveness of Devices

In some cases, devices that require an exceptionally high amount of energy may need to be repaired or updated. Try to find a newer, more energy-efficient model on the market; it may be worth the investment. Even if you choose not to replace a particular device, you may develop habits to help you minimize the use of your most energy-draining appliances. For example, you may cut back on TV time or choose to hand wash dishes some nights rather than running the dishwasher.

Shows Usage Trends

Often, our everyday behaviors can become so commonplace that we don’t even realize we’re doing them. When you monitor your usage, though, you can learn more about how your and your housemates’ behavior impacts your bill. This can help you determine if there are any behaviors or patterns that you can eliminate or reshape. For example, you may learn that you use the most energy in the middle of the day. If this is the case, you may want to consider doing daily chores or activities outside of the house during this time to cut back on usage.

Evaluates Your Current Electricity Provider

While your appliance and device usage can have a huge impact on your energy requirements, you may also want to make sure that you’re getting the best rate from your energy provider. Comparing Texas electricity providers can help you see if there’s a better option that may automatically save you money on your bill. Check out our list of Texas energy providers and learn more about local energy rates and plan options.

Searching for the cheapest electric company along with making other behavior and usage modifications can maximize your savings when your next bill arrives. These providers may also offer green energy options, which can lower your payments while doing good for the environment. Taking the extra step to examine your service may help you keep your electricity consumption as efficient as possible.

How To Track Electricity Usage in Texas

If you’re ready to learn more about your energy behaviors, here are some methods that can help you track your usage:

1) Monitor Your Bills

Your electricity bills may not give you all the information you require to track your usage. But they can help you get a baseline of information that can be useful as you increase your knowledge about specific devices and how much energy they use. Be sure to read your bill every month and keep track of trends, like whether the amount is decreasing or increasing each month and by how much.
If there are some months that are particularly high, it may be a good time to more carefully monitor other tracking devices the next month. Track your bills to note how much impact each behavior or usage change makes on your overall budget. If you notice any discrepancies, speak with your energy provider or begin looking into new options.

2) Use Smart Plugs

One of the simplest methods for monitoring the energy use of individual devices is employing smart plugs or smart power strips. When you purchase one of these intelligent devices, you can plug it into the wall or power outlet, then plug your device directly into the smart plug. You should receive detailed information about the device’s usage.

This is a great option if you have just a few devices you’d like to monitor, but it may be more challenging and cost-prohibitive to buy these plugs for every device in your home. Additionally, these plugs may only work for small devices, like a blender, but not for large appliances, like a washing machine. Available at many online retailers and home stores, these plugs may be a great place to start if you have a few small devices that you’d like to optimize immediately.

3) Try a Whole-home Electricity Monitor

If you’d like to go bigger, try out a whole-home electricity monitoring tool. After purchasing one of these monitors, you can connect its sensors to your home’s electrical panel or electricity meter. This should give you more specific information about all the appliances connected to an individual circuit. While this can give you a holistic understanding of how your home is using energy, you may also want to invest in a few smart plugs if there are particular machines that you’d like to learn more about.
Or, you can invest in some unique smart home features that can give you all the information you need. Before you select any monitor, though, make sure that it works with your household’s electricity voltage, like 120-, 208-, or 240-volt. Some monitors may only work with split-phase households. Available online and at many retailers, these monitors can help you meet all your tracking needs as long as you carefully select the one that works for you.

4) Consider Appliance Recognition Features

Really step up your electricity tracking game with a whole-home energy monitor that offers built-in appliance recognition features. These powerful machines can track the power consumption for every device plugged into a socket within the home. They do this by learning the unique electric signatures of each device and tracking these signatures individually.

Depending on which device you select, these monitors can allow you to name and track individual devices, and they may even provide specific power-saving recommendations like when to turn off each device to maximize efficiency. Often more expensive than a holistic energy monitor, these options may be worth the investment if you’d like to be in control of all the devices in your home without having to buy individual plugs.

5) Detect Vampire Loads

Vampire load energy, or idle load electricity, refers to the energy that your household machines can expend even when you aren’t using them. When you have a device powered on in sleep or standby mode, it can contribute to your electricity bill without you even realizing it. For example, if you have a household computer that you keep on when not in use, this can quickly affect your bill.

If you choose to purchase a whole-home monitor, you can track real-time consumption to learn more about how much energy you’re using at any given time. With this knowledge, you can look for ways to completely power down machinery when it’s not in use and cut your bill. Little thoughtful fixes like this can seriously impact your bill in the long term.

6) Download an App

If you want to keep track of energy usage even when you’re on the go, consider selecting an energy monitor that connects to a mobile application. When you select one of these options, you can easily look at your home’s energy consumption at any given time. This is particularly helpful if you’d like to keep track of the ways that appliances use energy when you’re not at home to detect any potential vampire loads.

These intelligent apps often have features to help you control your usage, like the option to input specific energy usage goals or receive unique, personally tailored recommendations. Some may even allow you to convert energy into cost, giving you a real-time look at what your bill might look like later in the month. If you’re thinking about an energy monitor but want to eliminate the stress of having to constantly monitor an electrical panel or read meters, look for a device that comes with an app and the features you want.

7) Monitor Solar Energy Generation

If you have a solar power system in your home, you can select an energy monitoring device that also tells you more about the energy your solar panels generate and when and where you use it. This can describe if your solar panels are doing as much work as they should. It can also help you determine the best time to run specific devices on solar energy to minimize costs rather than using the electricity grid. These solar monitors are available alongside many regular, whole-house monitoring options online and at home improvement stores.

8) Install Timers and Programs To Manage Usage

Some monitors and smart plugs have programs that can allow you to control appliance and device usage right from your phone. For example, you can invest in a monitor that includes a built-in timer to power off devices after a certain amount of use or at specific times during the day. You can also program your monitor to turn off select appliances at a pre-set time, or you can turn them off with your phone.
With this smart feature, you can control the amount of electricity each appliance uses. This can help you continuously monitor and control the most important devices in your home. When selecting an energy monitor, be sure to think about which functionalities you’d like to use and how they might help you limit your usage.

What Can You Do Once You’ve Monitored Your Usage?

Now that you have all this information, you may wonder what to do next. Here are some steps you can take to apply electricity tracking data to your everyday life:

Develop Energy-saving Habits

No matter which tracking method or machine you use, make sure that you’re making the most of the data you gather. If you learn that a certain appliance takes up the most energy, for example, you can develop strategies to limit its impact. While some machines, like a refrigerator, may require constant usage, you can always elect to turn off televisions, computers, or other devices when they’re not in use. You can also use your monitor to learn about the best and worst daily times to run appliances or receive specific recommendations for efficient energy use.

Invest in New, Smarter Tech

If you notice any particularly high-consuming technology, you may want to make sure that the device is performing properly. When a device gets old or has a broken or underperforming part, it can work harder to provide the same level of service, requiring more energy. This can apply to washing machines, air conditioners, dishwashers, and more.

If your energy-reducing habits don’t make much of an impact or usage keeps skyrocketing, consider bringing in a professional to make sure your system works properly. If the device is old, it may be time to invest in a newer model. With various energy-efficient options for each machine, you can move forward knowing that you’re using the most efficient option.

Discuss Usage Patterns With Other Members of the Household

Tracking electricity can offer a great excuse to talk to your housemates about their energy usage. Armed with data about which machines require the most energy, you can lead a discussion about ways to minimize usage. You can also describe how simple decisions, like leaving a device on when not in use, can lead to larger effects. Additionally, with simple and easy-to-use electricity monitoring applications and devices, you can empower all family members to stay on top of their usage at all times.

Consider Solar and Other Renewable Technologies

If you haven’t yet invested in solar, it may be the perfect time to do so. You can use an energy monitor to learn about how much electricity your solar panels produce and apply this energy to minimize your reliance on the energy grid. While this may be more of a long-term investment, you can let discovering how much energy each home appliance uses on a daily basis inspire you to make a positive change for the future.

If you’re looking to lower your electricity bill in Texas, tracking your electricity usage is a great way to discover smart fixes to improve your household energy efficiency. No matter which method you choose or which combination of options, more information can help you make smarter choices. With small changes and discussions, you and your housemates can make a big impact with smart energy-saving decisions that carry you into the future.



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