Frustrated With Your Utility Bill? We Try Out the PowerCost Monitor Frustrated With Your Utility Bill? We Try Out the PowerCost Monitor
There are lots of ways to be more energy efficient, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to cut down on energy usage in a way that makes sense for your home. We’ve all been frustrated when the utility bill arrives and we didn’t quite save as much as we thought, so we decided to try out an energy monitor that could help us get right to the bottom of what we were spending the most on and see if we could spot trends as well.
There are a lot of monitors out there that feature a socket for you to plug different appliances into and monitor each power usage, but that can get cumbersome as you write down each item in your house to compare and fiddle with the cords that are usually located in the back of a large and heavy device. We also found some devices that monitored the whole house’s usage by connecting outside to your electricity meter, but that wasn’t too convenient either. However, we found the perfect middle ground in this with Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor.
The PowerCost Monitor has two components: an optical sensor that clamps over your home’s electricity meter outside and a portable display that wirelessly receives real-time data about your energy usage. The display is set up to show you how many watts or money you’re spending at that moment as well as your entire billing cycle. There is also a second feature that gives you feedback for each appliance in your house to help you pinpoint problematic devices in your house.
We put our display right on the mantle in the living room so it would be easy to see. Just knowing how much energy we were using helped us be more conscious about turning off lights, fans, and other devices. It felt almost like a game at times and it was fun to see the numbers drop as we turned things off.
Setting everything up was pretty straightforward, but did take a little tinkering with the optical sensor. The instructions are clear and tell you what to do for whichever type of meter your house has. We tried it out on an electromechanical meter, the type with a spinning disc inside. While electronic meters can send a signal to the optical sensor, the electromechanical meter called for the optical sensor to scan the disc as it spun. While securing the sensor to the meter was easy (and won’t get in the way when city comes to read your meter), it was tricky to adjust the sensor’s optical arm just right for it to read the disc. However, the display perked right up and showed the disc’s spin rate once it was correctly positioned, and the optical sensor didn’t need to be touched again after the initial set up.
The WiFi Bridge is an optional add-on we tried out that relays information to the Blue Line EnergyCloud account we set up. EnergyCloud enabled us to view our current and past energy usage online either through our computer or the mobile app and could also be paired to partner applications like PlotWatt to get more in depth data or utilize the information in other helpful ways. With so many devices including mobile app compatibility nowadays, it was disappointing to have this feature be an optional add-on, and made us question if the benefits outweighed the extra cost.
While the WiFi Bridge was straightforward to install and set up, but did mean we had one extra item to store in our house. Most will be fine with reading their home’s information on the portable display, but for the more tech-minded user, having all their information on a computer with graphs and other options may make the extra purchase worth it.
The PowerCost Monitor system is available online through Amazon.com, and costs $99, while the addition of the WiFi Bridge will bump the total price to $169. Overall we enjoyed using the device and its sturdy construction and no-nonsense display of information made it a win in our books. We haven’t seen a set up yet that gave us this range of data and control and just having it around kept energy usage on our mind which helped us save money even when we weren’t focusing on it. The customized set up enabled us to put in exactly how much we are charged and even asks for different tier prices and ranges to keep its monetary feedback as accurate as possible. If you’re concerned about your energy usage or want to bring your utility bill down, Blue Line Innovation’s PowerCost Monitor is a solid choice.