Review: Onzo Smart Energy Kit – Part One

Onzo Smart Energy Kit

To many of us, and that’s me included, our energy bills can sometimes feel like a thing of mystery. Seemingly deliberately complicated so that we, the consumer, haven’t a clue what we are paying for and how this energy may have been used.

Energy consumption is measured in kWh, which is easy enough to understand, but what electrical appliances use the most power and how can we change our behaviour to save energy and ultimately save money?

To help in my quest for understanding and to share my findings with you, I’ve been kindly sent a Smart Energy Kit from the lovely people at Onzo to trial.

The Smart Energy Kit is a next generation energy-saving device which helps you to track how much electricity you’re using in your home and approximately how much you’re paying for it.

The Onzo Smart Energy Kit arrived neatly packed in a fully recyclable cardboard package with the funky printed message ‘Explore, Learn, Save’ on the front. Once open, I used the ‘quick start’ guide to set up the equipment, which was simplicity itself, and in less than 15 minutes the unit was completely set up and already providing real time information regarding the electricity being consumed in our home.

Once set up the fun begins! Curiousity immediately kicks in and it was fascinating to see on the easy-to-read digital display, the effect switching off unnecessary items had on the quantity of electricity being used and on the flip side quite scary watching the reading shoot up when something like the kettle is switched on!

A great feature of the Onzo is that information entered from your electricity bill during the set up process is used to give a guide to the cost of the electricity you are using.

Now that we are set up, the clever Onzo will evaluate our energy consumption over the next few days and then begin to give us targets for total daily consumption, warnings when our usage is exceptionally high and when the National Grid is under highest demand. Included in the pack is a chart to plot your energy saving progress week by week and next time I’ll let you know how we’ve been getting on.

If you would like more information regarding the Onzo Smart Energy Kit visit www.onzo.com kits are available online with prices around £70.00. Although not cheap, looking at the way the kit is already making my family think about what appliances are on and reminding us to switch things off standby etc., I’m convinced the kit would quickly pay for itself.

Come back soon to read part two of my review where I’ll be reporting back on how I’m getting on and hopefully give you a rough idea on how much I’ve saved to date.

To read our review of the AlertMe Smart Energy Kit, take a look here.

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8 Comments
Naomi Richards

I always love the products you review. I guess whatver you spend on them you are always saving money so it is worthwhile. My husband would like something that just fits the washing machine so it uses less energy! or we can see how energy sapping it really is.

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admin

Hi Naomi, thanks for your lovely comments. You’d love the Onzo, it is brilliant. I’ve become obsessed with checking how much energy I’m using and also it’s fantastic for clearly and easily showing you which are the energy-sappers in your home. There is a second part coming to the review, in this I’ll be seeing how much I’ve potentially saved. Do pop back to see how I got on :)

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Mark Brock

Looking forward to Part 2 – my Onzo arrived reently and, although the device itself is working fine and gathering data, Southern Electric have so far failed to provide a working website to allow me to use the online tools and upload data.

As for washing machines – the first target should be to minimise use of the tumble dryer, they use huge amounts of energy regardless of their “eco” rating. And energy consumption isn’t the only issue, my last washing machine (a “quality” German brand) lasted three years before being scrapped, and during that time it was obvious that its good energy rating was achieved at the expense of washing speed and efficiency. I replaced it with a Swedish machine which came with a 10-year parts and labour guarantee – and from previous experience of the brand, it will last that long easily. It also washes quickly and efficiently.

There is a current trend towards cheaper and cheaper goods which don’t last and are not worth repairing – or gadgets which become “obsolete” every few months. Surely a move back to well engineered, repairable and upgradeable goods which last is worth more to the global environment than a few kWh here and there.

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admin

Hi Mark, thank you for your comment and I hope you benefit from your Onzo Smart Energy Kit, like we are doing.

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree about the use of the tumble dryer. I still get dumbfounded when I find people using them in the height of summer (yes, I mean on sunny days). I am and have always been a passionate advocate of the good old fashioned washing line – not only is it free to use, your washing smells better and takes less time to iron – another energy-saving benefit.

I also agree with you about our hard-to-break habit of being disposable – whilst products are so inexpensive, many people will see their replacement as a right and wholly acceptable. ‘Made to last’ may still be seen by some as being ‘old-fashioned’ but, with austerity a thing of the present rather than the past, maybe more people will come to learn to invest in something that will give them a lifetime of service, rather than a short term pleasure. Perhaps if electronic companies also ceased creating products in the ‘latest colour palette’ we may have less small goods cluttering up our cupboards and our recycling centres.

Thanks for your comments and do pop back to let me know how you get on with your Onzo.

Thanks, Lyndsey

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Mark Brock

A quick update on my Onzo experience – well Southern Electric finally sorted out their website and I can now view graphs and comparisons with other users online. The life of the Onzo’s rechargeable battery seems a bit short – however it seems the usage data is stored in the transmitter unit, as I still had a complete dataset when the Onzo display had gone flat when we were on holiday.

Another annoyance was that the annual estimated consumption (used for setting weekly targets) was overwritten by Southern Electric’s hopelessly optimistic value every time you uploaded your data – requiring a tedious and finger-aching journey through the manual setup afterwards. However this seems to have been fixed in the latest software/firmware update. The days when my consumption has been higher than average usually coincide with good weather – so I can do the washing and dry it outside!

I’ve found it a very useful tool – if only to remind me to switch lights off when I’ve vacated a room. I am also tempted to replace the halogen lights in our living room with the excellent Philips MasterLEDs – it would mean sacrificing the dimmer but I was most impressed with the GU10 version I fitted in our bathroom (for heat reasons) – it really is a like-for-like halogen replacement in every respect apart from using a fraction of the energy. Expensive, but in a living room it should pay for itself in under 3 years.

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admin

Thanks for the update Mark, you’ve raised some really interesting points. In fact, you may be very interested to hear the feedback we are gathering with regards to another smart energy meter, this one is called AlertMe. We are putting it through it’s paces now and will have our feedback shortly.

I agree about the length of the battery, it’s incredibly short isn’t it. Yes, halogen lights are energy-zappers aren’t they, the Philips MasterLED’s sound good though, I’ll make sure I seek them out.

Thanks again

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Robert Marsh

Can you help, I was supplied my Onzo smart meter by Scottish Southern Energy and it now fails to receive a reading from the sender. Have tried to link the two appliances which I have done so in the past with no problem. It seems no light comes on on the sender to start the search and hence it cannot find the receiver. Will my provider replace this piece of kit for me.
Regards Rob

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admin

Hi Robert, unfortunately I’ve just experienced the same problem with my Onzo energy kit. When I get feedback from Onzo regarding the problem, I will forward the information to yourself.

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