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As we said in our March 2011 newsletter on smart home devices, “what gets measured, get managed.” And knowing what your appliances are actually consuming can help you to save money by eliminating wasted energy and making the most energy-efficient use of the appliances in your home.
This article and video gives you eight tips for helping you to get the most from a Kill-a-Watt device.
BORROW ONE FROM YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
Rather than purchasing a Kill-a-Watt device which costs about $25, many public libraries now offer the free use of a Kill-a-Watt monitor that you can check out and then return when you are finished. After using it, you may decide that you want to buy one to have around your home. But if you have learned enough about your appliances from the Kill-a-Watt that you borrowed from the library, then this can save you the cost of Kill-a-Watt device.
USE AN EXTENSION CORD OR POWER STRIP
Many people complain that when the plug their Kill-a-Watt into a wall socket and then plug an appliance into the device, that they have to crawl on their hands and knees to read the device. A great way to avoid this problem is to first plug your Kill-a-Watt into an grounded extension cord or power strip, so that you can then plug the extension cord into the wall and have the Kill-a-Watt where you can more easily see it.
USE THE FORECAST FEATURE
The Kill-a-Watt is designed to record how much electricity an appliance uses over a period of time. But you can also use it to get a snapshot forecast of how much electricity the appliance is expected to use over an hour, day, month or even year. To use this forecast feature, just plug an appliance into the Kill-a-Watt, hold the Reset button to clear it, and then push the menu button until you see “cost” displayed. Then you can push the up and down buttons to view the forecast cost for an hour, day, month or year. Keep in mind however, that this snapshot forecast will not be accurate for an appliance that cycles on and off, such as a refrigerator.
CHECK YOUR TV AND DVR
One of the first things that you will want to check with your Kill-a-Watt device is your television, cable box and digital video recorder, if you have one. As we mentioned in our August 2010 newsletter on “vampire power,” your TV, cable box and DVR can continue to suck a lot of electricity even when they are turned off. After you check these appliances with your Kill-a-Watt and see how much their vampire power use actually costs you, it will likely convince you to purchase a separate power strip that you can use to turn them off completely. As mentioned in our article, you may even want to purchase a wireless or programmable outlet, which can make this more convenient.
CHECK YOUR COMPUTER AND PERIPHERALS
Another good place to check with your Kill-a-Watt device is your computer and its associated devices, such as your printer, speakers, wireless network, external hard drive, etc. Like your TV and DVR box, seeing how much vampire power these suck when they are turned off will likely convince you to start using a power strip to turn all of these off when they are not in use. And if you have a fax machine in your home, then when you see how much vampire power it sucks when it’s just sitting there waiting for an occasional fax, it will likely convince you to get rid of your fax machine all together, and use an online fax service instead.
CHECK YOUR LAMPS
An interesting thing to do with your Kill-a-Watt device is if you have a regular incandescent light bulb in one of you lamps, is to plug it into your Kill-a- Watt device and then replace the bulb with a more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb. When you see how much less electricity the compact fluorescent bulb uses, it will likely convince you to start replacing all of the incandescent bulbs in your home with CFLs (helpful accessory: compact fluorescent lightbulbs).
CHECK YOUR EXTRA REFRIGERATOR
If you have an extra refrigerator in your garage or basement, then use your Kill-a-Watt device to check its power use. Since a refrigerator cycles off and on, you should leave it plugged into your device for several days to get a good indication of its actual power consumption. When you see how much this extra refrigerator costs you to use, you may decide it time to donate it to a worthy charity rather than having it running all the time at your house and only occasionally used.
CHECK YOUR PHONE CHARGERS
And lastly, use your Kill-a-Watt to check your cell phone chargers to see how much vampire power they suck when they are plugged into the wall without being connected to your phone. You may have seen articles in the news about how much electricity that phone chargers use when they are not being used, well, by using a Kill-a-Watt device you can tell if your phone charger really is one of the culprits. In many cases you may find that your charger only draws a few cents a year in electricity, and it’s not worth the effort of remembering to unplug it or investing in a separate power strip for it.
A Kill-a-Watt electricity usage monitor is a great tool for finding ways to reduce electricity use around your home. We hope this article and video has given you helpful tips for how to get the most out of this smart home device..
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