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Saving Energy with a Kill A Watt Meter

Saving Energy with a Kill A Watt Meter

Saving energy,  money and the environment is on many people’s wish list.  It would be nice if this job could be made quick and simple or, better yet, automated.

With growing awareness of the need for energy efficiency many products have been developed to address this very idea – to save energy and money.

One of the problems of trying to save money by cutting down on power usage is that you may not know where the biggest energy wasters are.  You need a way to measure this so that you can work out a way to deal with the problem.

One way to find some of those culprits and save energy is by plugging appliances into a meter that measures what they are actually using.  There are many styles of meter available that will give the energy usage in Watts and kWh per day, month and year.  When we first built our off-grid solar home we bought a meter that cost almost $300 to do this job.  But now there are many other – and much less expensive – options that also do a lot more.

For example, there is a Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Meter that also includes a timer so that you can not only measure the power usage but also set up the timer to turn appliances on and off at preset times.  Besides being a good way to save energy it also doubles as a vacation timer to turn lights on at various times when you are away.

Our meter, though more expensive, was not as sophisticated but it did tell us what we needed to know.  There were some surprises among the appliances that we measured.

We found that a slow cooker is a very low energy way to cook foods because the heating element is on a thermostat so does not run all the time.  Since any heating element uses a lot of power the fact that it is intermittent makes it much less of a power hog that it would seem at first.  The electronic coffee maker with its 2 hour keep warm setting showed the same kind of results.  The coffee maker is rated at 900 Watts so you would expect that in 2 hours it would use 1.8 kWh.  It did not.  The heating element cuts in only as needed so the 2 hour period required only about o.6 kWh.

We measured the new deep freeze we had bought and discovered that it did not meet the energy rating marked on the product.  It was rated to use 218 kWh/year but it did not achieve this even on its lowest setting.  Perhaps the rating was done in a room at zero degrees Celsius?  We took care of the problem by putting it into our unheated porch so that it would draw little energy during the winter months when we have less power available from our solar power system.  We also tested our fridge, rated at 404 kWh/year, and found that it lived up to its rating.

Black & Decker Energy Monitor

Black & Decker Energy Monitor

It’s also useful to see what the whole house is using.  You can go out and check your electrical meter but this is hardly convenient.  Again, there are meters available that will make this much easier.  The Black & Decker Energy Saver Power Monitor
is a wireless system that includes a weatherproof sensor that easily attaches to your outside electricity meter–it’s designed to work with most meters.

The sensor transmits information to the wireless in-home display unit, which you can read inside, comfortably and conveniently.  The monitor’s easy-to-read digital display shows your current energy usage in dollars, the outdoor temperature so you can account for heat used on cold mornings, and it displays your month-to-date usage along with an estimate for your upcoming bill. This advanced feature can work with any type of billing rate, including flat rate billing, separate peak and off-peak rates, or tiered billing structures.

With easy and inexpensive monitoring systems like these, you can measure what you use and figure out where you can save money.


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