Are EDDs or energy monitors the way forward?

Are EDDs or energy monitors the way forward? Image by James Morrison via Flickr

Electronic digital displays (EDDs) or energy monitors are now all the rage with energy suppliers as the new way to get you, the consumer, engaged and excited about energy.

You might be wondering what an EDD or energy monitor actually is. Basically, it is a device which measures how much electricity you use. It has a clamp that is attached to one of your mains electricity cables and it measures the power that flows through to your home. The units counted are transmitted to the EDD itself, which is usually a small wireless unit with a screen which displays data about how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing.  The more recent editions of these devices also allow you to send the data to an online account too, so you can get a better overview of your usage.

EDDs are becoming more sophisticated all the time. One of the most recent displays to come out from EDF even comes with some special plugs that allow you to turn appliances on or off remotely.  As these EDDs continue to develop you will see more and more changes. For example, I have seen some technology from a company that not only tells you how much power you are using, but also tells you which devices are using it, e.g. the kettle, the lights, your toaster etc.

Bearing in mind these devices collect real-time data for electricity consumption, you may be wondering what the difference is to a smart meter. There are two main differences:

1. EDDs aren’t as accurate as a smart meter. It can give an idea as to the level of energy you are using, but it’s not enough to generate an accurate bill for you.

2.  The energy companies don’t have the technical set up to be able to receive the data that comes from the devices and load it in their billing systems.

Because gas and electricity come into your home on-demand, there’s very little that differentiates between suppliers except the price you pay. As a result, EDDs are becoming an increasingly popular tool with which energy suppliers are trying to attract customers.  Now this technology costs money to develop, manufacture and distribute, so in some cases the energy supplier will only give it to you for free if you sign up to a specific tariff, i.e. they may not charge you for the technology but they will ultimately add it to the cost of the energy they supply you with.

Here’s a table with some more information about the tariffs on the market that come with an EDD or energy monitor:

Now all of this extra information that you can get from an EDD is great, but seriously, after playing with it for a couple of weeks or even a month suddenly it isn’t so new and exciting anymore. You’ve drummed into the kids the impact of leaving the lights on and you have also realised that your consumption doesn’t change that much. What do you do with your EDD now? Does it stay on the mantlepiece as a 21st century icon towards your green credentials in order to impress the neighbours when they come round? Maybe it can be used as a paperweight in your study? Do you wait for a sexier model to come out and upgrade it like you would your mobile phone?  But maybe, just maybe, it could become a useful tool in allowing you to keep your energy bills down and be a good reminder that all of us have an obligation to try to minimise the impact we are having on our planet and the resources we quite rapidly draining.

What is your view on electronic digital displays, passing fad or a great piece of technology here to stay?  Please let us know your thoughts.