Home power consumption monitoring made easy
We liked the first Alertme home electricity monitor but it was too expensive. The new version is cheaper and doesn't require the £3-a-month subscription.
It was simple to set up, and relies on a clever gadget called the Smart Hub. This plugs into your router, connects wirelessly to the other parts of the kit and saves power data online. After setting up the kit we registered with the Alertme website, which identified all the Alertme equipment in our home.
A reader unit clamps around your home's mains wiring; it was quite chunky and we had some trouble moving the mains supply cable far enough away from the wall to fit the clamp around it.
The reader attaches to a large power supply unit, into which two large D-cell batteries, supplied, must be inserted. This was cumbersome, but Alertme told us it's necessary because the reader sends so much data to the hub.
Finally, there's an In Home Display, a small colour screen that shows current usage in numbers and as a gauge. The hub and the display require mains connections, which was annoying, but they don't use much power.
So far, it's the same as any other energy monitor, but where this kit comes into its own is that the home display isn't necessary: energy usage is best viewed using the Alertme website, which shows at a glance not just how much electricity we were using, but also how it compared to previous days, weeks and months, and how much it was likely to cost.
The latter requires entering your tariff costs, and like other monitors Alertme can't deal with the two-tier tariffs popular in the UK, which is a shame, but still it was useful to get a cost estimate. The website also shows your carbon footprint, breaks down daily use into time periods (how much you spend on power at night, in the morning and so on) and more. Data can be downloaded if you'd like to play with it in Excel or another tool.
Smart Plug are available, which cost £25 each. These connect to the kit and allows monitoring of a single piece of equipment, and even allows users to switch that equipment on and off remotely. Alertme sells a range of home monitoring kit such as cameras, but these are not compatible with the new Smart Hub – the company says it will have announcements in that area later in 2012. Finally, a free iPhone app can be used to glance at data and switch the Smart Plug on and off, but it's not as detailed as the full web version.
Alertme Smart Energy is an excellent electricity monitor – it not only shows power consumption but helps you reduce it.
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The best way we've seen to keep tabs on your home energy usage – and there are more improvements to come
No subscription required; excellent online monitoring tools and tailored predictions; easy to set up and add new devices
Reader battery unit is cumbersome; needs lots of mains connections
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