Fans of home automation offer several compelling reasons why they prefer to stock their homes with a network of smart devices. One is that it’s simply cool to do so, and you can’t underestimate the feeling of being on the cutting edge of high tech trends. Another reason is that it’s really very convenient, as the ability to control devices remotely (even when at work) makes things so much easier. And of course there’s the chance of cutting back on your power consumption. If your goal is to lower your electric bills, you need the Neurio Home Electricity Monitor. It’s a smart device that’s also high tech and convenient to use.

How Home Automation Saves Energy

Home automation helps with saving energy by offering you the capability to turn off devices you’ve inadvertently left running. You can check your appliances’ status, and if you see that one of them is still running while you’re already on your way to work then you can just simply turn it off using your smartphone. Smart devices can also turn off according to schedule, and some can even turn themselves off when it senses that you’re outside your home.

But some devices help you conserve energy with the power of knowledge. For example, smart outlets can calculate how much energy a particular appliance is using. The trouble is that you’ll need to power every appliance with this gadget to get a sense of how you consume energy in your home. But now with the Neurio Home Electricity Monitor, you can do just that. With the Neurio, knowledge is power. Or more accurately, more knowledge leads to less energy consumed.

What Is It?

The Neurio Home Electricity Monitor is an entry-level gadget from the company. It can be upgraded to have the capabilities of the more advanced (and much more expensive) Intelligent Home Monitor. You can also add on the energy monitor for solar power systems if you’re using one. But as it is, the Neurio HEM does more than enough to help you conserve power and cut down on your energy bills. It’s like getting yourself a BMW 3. It’s entry-level, but it sure packs a lot of punch.

The Hem is attached to the breaker panel of your home, so that it monitors the totality of your electrical consumption constantly. So it’s like having a smart outlet for every device you have. It notes how much power you’re consuming, and it provides you the data in real time. It figures out your electricity consumption and it can warn you with notifications about unusual power uses. It can show you how much power your appliances are draining even when you think they’re not running, simply because they’re plugged in.

It doesn’t really look like much when you first get it in a package, as the box it comes in measures only 8.3 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches. Inside, you get the Neurio Wi-Fi Sensor, two current transformers, voltage cables, antenna and mounting options, and various other accessories.

But what this thing does, when you hear many of the more than 100,000 consumers who bought it, is help cut electricity consumption by as much as 44%. That translates to savings of hundreds of dollars on your electricity bills, and it more than makes up your $180 investment on the device.

Installing the Neurio HEM

The HEM can be used in most houses and apartments in North America. It’s compatible with the typical 120/240V 60Hz voltage setup in homes and 120/208V 60Hz in apartments. You should find the voltage configuration labeled on the door of your breaker panel.

You’ll also have to use the Neurio app, and for this you need an Android device running on 4.0.3 or higher. You can also use the iOS app on an iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch as long as it’s running iOS 7.0 or higher.

It has a web interface, which is supported by numerous browsers. If you’re using Chrome, Firefox, IE, or Safari on your PC then you should be fine. You’ll also need Wi-Fi access (2.4 GHz 802.11n) so that the device can transmit info online.

Now we come to installing your device on your breaker panel. If you have zero electrical DIY knowledge, and you’re not familiar at all with the workings of your breaker panel, then it’s highly recommended that you just let a professional electrician to handle the installation for you.

However, if you have some electrical knowledge then perhaps it will take you less than half an hour to complete the installation yourself. Neurio has an instructional installation video on their site, which you should really watch.

Here are the steps:

  1. First you’ll need to mount the sensor, and so you have to find an acceptable place in the panel where the HEM will fit. You can then secure the device to the panel with the self-drilling screws that’s part of your Neurio package.
  2. Then you’ll loop the current transformers around each of the main power lines.
  3. The next step involves connecting the voltage cables to 2 empty breakers.
  4. Now it’s time to connect the antenna.
  5. And that’s it for the work on the breaker panel. You can now connect the HEM to your Wi-Fi network and see your electrical consumption in real time.

You also get a 1-year warranty, which starts when you receive the package.

How Does It Work?

With the Neurio HEM, the current transformers measure the flow of electricity. Then the REST API transmits the data on home electricity use to the Neurio cloud service. The Neurio servers then use their special algorithms to interpret the data, and it tracks your household energy use over time, and the customized tips you get are based on your actual electrical activity patterns. You can then use your app to see the graphs, results, and tips regarding what you need to do to save energy.

With the information you get, you can take effective measures to save on energy consumption.

  • You can monitor your home electricity usage constantly and you can see high spikes regarding when you use up a lot of power. So if you see some unusual power consumption at a weird time, you can investigate for yourself to find out what’s causing the surge in power usage. One customer admitted to discovering how early in the morning his son uses the washing machine to clean just a single pair of jeans!
  • Your device stores a year’s worth of data logging, so that even when your Wi-Fi is down your info isn’t lost.
  • The HEM also identifies the appliances in your home that are drawing power even when they’re not turned on. These are the “vampire appliances” which cost American households an average of $165 added to their utility bills.
    All you need to do is to watch your current electricity consumption, and then you watch how much power you save when you unplug your appliances.
  • It helps you identify your most wasteful energy users. About 8 or 9 appliances in your home are responsible for about 80% of your energy bill. So you can find means of taking action to keep these appliances from consuming too much power. You may also find it more cost-effective if you can replace energy guzzlers with more energy-efficient models. One consumer discovered that their fluorescent tube lights were actually consuming 400 watts.
    Again, all need to do is to note the difference in your current energy usage when an appliance is turned on and then off. Or you can find out how much energy your appliance consumes when you use a particular setting. Another customer refrained from using the extra dry setting on their dishwasher when they noted that it consumed 5,000 watts.
    The app can eventually identify particular appliances by turning appliances on and off, and give you data and tips regarding their use.
  • You get alerts and notifications on your smartphone for every unusual electricity use. You can get an alert when your washing machine is done running. You’ll also be told when you’ve left your air conditioner running when you’ve left the home.
  • Since Neurio is a smart device, you can program it to act on more sophisticated triggers by using services like IFTTT.
  • The Neurio HEM also offers a bill forecasting service, so that you can see your estimated bill based on current usage. You’ll just need to input the utility rate you pay into the app. So you can set an electricity budget, and Neurio can send you an alert when you get over your budget. You can then become more conscientious of your power consumption.
  • It also compares your electrical use with your neighbors’ energy usage.
  • You also get a history of your electrical use over the day, week, month, and year.
  • There are no monthly fees for using the Neurio cloud service.

Pros and Cons

The benefit of the Neurio HEM boils down to one thing: information. And with the knowledge you can act and save money with more conscientious energy usage.

  • You’ll know if you’ve left an appliance running, and if it is a smart device you can turn it off automatically.
  • You can find out how much it will cost you to use a special setting in your appliance (such as a washer or dryer) and it may prevent you from using wasteful settings you don’t really need.
  • You can discover the appliances that use too much power like inefficient light bulbs, and you can replace them with modern energy-efficient alternatives.
  • You can realize just how much money it costs you to leave appliances plugged or on sleep mode, so you can save money simply by unplugging them.

It’s obviously not perfect as the installation can be tricky, but having an electrician do the work can save you a lot of time, effort, and trouble. It’s also not quite cheap, but then again its cost doesn’t compare to your potential savings.

But that’s the crux of the matter. The Neurio Home Energy Monitor doesn’t really save you money on your energy bills. It’s you, and only you, who can actually do that. It’s up to you to act and to put an effort in unplugging appliances. It’s up to you to decide whether a gimmicky gadget or a special setting is worth the electrical expense.

The Neurio is just one gadget that gives you info, but you must act on that info. If you think you have it in you to act, here are some tips to help you out even without the Neurio:

  • Identify the appliances you don’t use often, and then unplug them. These are for appliances you use occasionally, and not devices like your ridge or cable box.
  • Don’t leave on your OC for extended periods of time. Put it in sleep mode or power it down.
  • Use smart outlets. These devices can give you remote control even over non-smart appliances, so you can turn them off remotely.
  • Buy only appliances with Energy Star labels. These are the more energy-efficient models.

If you can do these things regularly, then the Neurio Home Energy Monitor can help you cut down on your energy bill even further.

Conclusion

Many of us are blissfully unaware of how we use electricity. More to the point, we actually don’t know how much we waste electricity. The Neurio HEM doesn’t tell you to stop using electricity. It just tells you how much money you’re spending on electricity every time you use an appliance or a setting. And it poses you a question—is it worth it?

You can no longer operate in blissful ignorance when you have the Neurio Home Energy Monitor. With the information it can give you, you should be able to make more conscious and more conscientious decisions in your energy use. When you realize how much you spend on electricity and how you can cut down on your usage, you can drastically reduce your energy bills. This makes the Neurio HEM a must-have device for any household.