Have you ever wondered how you can compare power consumption of appliances in your home? Like, how much money does it take to run your refrigerator per day? Or, how much does it cost to leave your laptop plugged in all day?
There is a handy little device that can tell you all this info and more. And, it might just be your secret weapon on your quest to have the cheapest electricity bill possible.
How can I compare energy prices for each electronic item in my home?
Every plugged-in item in your home draws some electricity. Figuring out which items drain a lot of extra energy is key to proactively lowering your energy usage. A watt meter can help determine energy draw for each device or appliance.
A watt meter is also called a power meter, or electricity usage monitor. It’s a small, handheld device that measures:
- The voltage of the outlet itself (how much potential energy it can produce)
- How many kilowatts an electrical device plugged in consumes over a period of time
A quick review of watts, kilowatts and kilowatt hours
For reference, a watt (W) is a unit of power. A kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 watts, and a kilowatt hour (kWh) is how much energy a machine needs to use in order to run for one hour. Electricity providers’ bills show us how many kWh of energy we use each month. The monthly usage is then multiplied by the cost per kWh to find out how much we owe for energy. (Note: Fees and other charges can increase the final balance).
How do I use a watt meter?
You can easily use a watt meter to compare power use of items in your home. Follow these three simple steps:
Step 1: Get plugged in.
Plug the watt meter into a three-pronged outlet. Then, plug the item whose usage you want to monitor into the watt meter’s outlet.
Step 2: Enter your settings.
Following the watt meter manual, set your cost per kWh. (Hint: If you’re not sure where to find this information, check your Electricity Facts Label.)
Step 3: Check back later.
When you check the meter, you will see a reading for how many kilowatts the item has used since it was plugged in. You can also check the total cost it has racked up in that time period. As a result, you can now do some simple math to calculate how much the item uses in a day, week or month.
Once you know this information, you can compare power consumption among your appliances and electronic devices. You can also compare power consumption of one item when it is in use and when it is in standby mode, too.
A watt meter empowers you with knowledge, which you can use to take action. For instance, maybe you will decide to unplug heavy energy consumers when not in use to avoid phantom load. Or, maybe you will replace an old and inefficient appliance with one that’s Energy Star-rated.
Where do I get a watt meter?
Watt meters can be found at home improvement stores. Also, many online retailers, such as Amazon, sell them. Plus, your local library may even have one you can check out for free!
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