The Electrisave kit includes a battery-powered main unit receiver with an LCD screen to display electricity usage (pictured above), a current sensor which measures electricity usage, and a battery-powered wireless remote transmitter which transmits the information from the sensor (located by your electricity meter) to the main unit.
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Electrisave arrives in the post very well packaged. Included are a detailed 20 page User Manual (click to view online), and a Quick Install Guide. The Quick Install Guide covers all the information you need to get Electrisave installed and working; the User Manual covers that information in greater detail and includes details on advanced configuration of Electrisave.
The clear and comprehensive instructions made installation of Electrisave a breeze. A small cross-head (phillips) screwdriver is required to open the battery compartment of the remote transmitter unit. If like most people you don’t have one to hand then a sharp pointed knife can be used with care to open the compartment. This is a bit of an annoyance, but no other tools are required unless you would like to wall-mount the units using the included brackets.
Of particular note is the way detailed instructions are printed on the battery compartments of both the transmitter and the main unit. Over the years when the user guide is long lost, these will be invaluable when changing the batteries or moving house.
Configuring the Electrisave
Electrisave is pre-configured for UK users at 240 Volts, but the displayed currency unit is set as dollars rather than pounds. Correcting this takes just a couple of button clicks.
The most important step is setting the cost-per-hour value so that Electrisave can display the cost per hour of electricity usage. This is supposed to be set to the cost per unit (kWh) of electricity as printed on your electricity bill. However, most electricity suppliers charge more than one tariff – one (more expensive) for the first couple of hundred kWh, and a slightly cheaper tariff for all subsequent usage during that three-month quarter.
As the above photo of my electricity bill shows, last quarter I was charged just over 15p per kWh for the first 185 kWh, and 11p for the remaining 682 kWh of usage. This worked out as an average of 12.54p per kWh unit so I entered 12.5p following the user guide instructions – again just a couple of button presses on the display unit.
Configuring everything on the display unit took under 10 minutes including reading the manual. Everything is very well explained and the instructions are easy to follow.
Using the Electrisave
Within one day of installing the Electrisave I had become an electricity bore. One month on and I have become worse! It is often more fun to watch the Electrisave than to watch television.
Our home has a mixture of 12V LED spotlights and 240V halogen spotlights. The first time I turned on the living room lights and discovered that they use 450 Watts of electricity I realised how Electrisave can pay for itself with the money it can save you. £102 per year going just on living room lighting! That 240V halogen spotlight circuit was gone that weekend and now Electrisave tells me the living room is now lit with just under 20 Watts of LED spotlighting – £95 per year saved and I no longer need sunglasses on the sofa.When we moved into this house six months ago there was a washer-drier machine already built-in, so we left our energy-efficient Bosch washing machine and separate tumble drier in storage. One weekend of Electrisave-watching (and clothes coming out of the machine too hot to touch, but still soaking wet!) and the Bosch brothers came home. In addition to each washing and drying cycle using far less electricity, Electrisave confirmed that using the tumble drier two or three times in a row rather than on successive days saves electricity because the machine is already hot. A tip to add to REUK.co.uk‘s somewhat limited list of ways to save electricity together with washing clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees.
Electrisave is very simple to use and the display is clear enough to be read across a room. The incorporated temperature and humidity display is very useful when, for example, deciding whether to turn on the radiators (because the room is cold), or to run around the house (because you are cold).
The amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of electricity consumption can also be displayed. Though initially interesting, this was not found to be particularly useful over time. Seeing the electricity usage displayed in pence per hour was found to be much more informative because it is so easy to understand and appreciate. However, it is nice to have the feature available.
Limitations of Electrisave
It states on the frequently asked questions page of the Electrisave website that Electrisave is not an accumulation revenue meter. Electrisave only displays the amount of electricity being used at a particular instant and all calculations are done on that value – e.g. if Electrisave displays a cost per hour of 15 pence it means that IF you continue to use electricity at exactly the current rate for one hour, the total cost of that electricity would be 15 pence.
An electric hob for example turns on and off under thermostatic control and so the displayed value alternates between 15p per hour and 0p per hour. To work out how much electricity is actually being used per hour it is necessary to watch the Electrisave and see for what fraction of the time the hob is physically on. When in use the rings on our hob are usually on approximately 80% of the time, so the cost per hour had to be reduced by 20% to get the true cost per hour.
In early 2008 an updated Electrisave model will go on sale in the UK. The new Electrisave will be able to store data and therefore tell you exactly how much electricity you have used today, yesterday, last week, last month, and this year. It will also be possible to set different tariffs (such as Economy 7) so that the cost per unit is changed automatically as the tariff changes. One of the best features of Electrisave is its simplicity, so the original Electrisave will continue to be sold at a slightly reduced price compared to the new feature-rich Electrisave.
There are currently no plans to implement a USB interface to enable collected data to be downloaded to a PC and analysed in more detail.
Electrisave is a unique product on the market so it is fortunate for everyone that it does exactly what it is supposed to with no fuss. It is a high quality product which can easily pay for itself in one year. Its very presence in the home is a constant reminder of how much electricity is being consumed. Installation is very quick requiring no DIY skills whatsoever and the provided well-illustrated and detailed instructions contain all the information necessary to make full use of Electrisave from day one. The wireless display unit presents the data in a clear uncluttered format and it is intuitive to use.
Purchasing the Electrisave
NEW Electrisave is no longer available. It was first of all rebranded as the OWL wireless energy monitor. A new improved version went on sale at the start of 2009 called OWL CM119. Click here now to view our article OWL CM119 Wireless Energy Monitor for more information and for purchasing information.