Current Cost CC128 ENVI electricity monitor review

We are all doomed unless we start caring about the environment and as many scientists and eco warriors will tell you, that means turning things off.

The news is likely to come as an annoyance to you, you gadget loving fiend, so the Current Cost CC128 ENVI (catchy we know) hopes to let you banish those un-eco-friendly gadgets and let you see where you can save a few bob too. But does it work? We connected it to the gadget-filled Pocket-lint towers to find out.

The Current Cost CC128 ENVI comes in two parts, a big, very un-eco looking power pack that clamps around your inbound electricity cable and a LCD PDA looking device that relays all the data so you can see what's going on.

Set-up is a doddle, basically involving you opening a clasp (by hand) slipping it over the correct cable that comes out of your electric meter and then pulling a plastic tab out of the battery to get going. You don't need an electrician or any real knowledge of how it works, just the ability to put a clasp around a cable.

The PDA is powered by plugging it in to a wall socket and away you go. Once connected data will start streaming through to the device giving you a number of factoids about the electricity use in your house or office.

The exciting, or useful, bits of information are all displayed clearly in number format. There aren't multiple menus to navigate, option screens to work out or confusing settings to master. Everything is on the one screen.

Of course the biggest number is the one that is likely to scare the most. How much energy you are using right now. Flick a switch on in your house and the number changes, turn the kettle on and it goes stratospheric.

Numbers are one thing, but how much really is 584 watts and why should I care? Well in an attempt to bring that number closer to home (i.e., your wallet) the Current Cost lays out what your current state is going to cost you over the day and the month if it doesn't change.

Through the process of hours of testing (turning the light on and off) I can now tell you with confidence that the lamp in the Pocket-lint office costs £23 a month to run if I was to leave it on that long.

The cost is calculated by a default price for electric,. however you can change this to fit your electricity price bill and more usefully, whether or not you pay different rates at different times, giving you a real value rather than just an estimation.

Perhaps appealing to those who like to see data in context, you can get details on the previous three time zones: 7am - 3pm, 3pm - 11pm and then 11pm to 7am allowing you to see when you use electricity the most (we bet it's the 3pm till 11pm time zone). While beyond that you get further details on the last day, last 7 days and then last 30 days giving you plenty of stats to prove that your fridge is costing you a fortune.

Of course for those really keen to drill down into the data, you can get a PC link (optional) to transfer the data to a spreadsheet up to 7 years, and even go as far as monitor individual appliances with further additional bolt-ons so you have data to back-up your belief that the fridge really is costing you more than it should.

Verdict

The good thing about the Current Cost CC128 ENVI is that it works, allowing you to micro manage your electricity use around the house or the office. Seeing the cost of having your TV on standby, or having those Halogen downlights you think are funky on, you might think again.

The problem is that you probably already know that having all the lights on around your house is expensive and boiling the kettle every couple of hours for a cup of tea is not the best use of your electricity, yet you still do it.

We aren't denying the CC128 ENVI will let you monitor what you spend and how you spend it, but as with all home electricity monitoring devices, after the first couple of days the information it provides you with ceases to scare and becomes matter of fact.