Kill A Watt and Save Some Green

I thought this would be easier. Use a device called a Kill A Watt to see where and how much electricity is being used in my home. It’s all the rage to be ‘green’ and bring your own water bottle, but would this a chance to see what’s going inside the home with things we don’t give much thought.

We all have items plugged in that have become part of the mental wallpaper of our lives. Cordless phones, laptop and cell phone chargers as well as the more obvious refrigerators and large screen TV’s.

I picked up the Kill A Watt at the Maplewood Memorial and Hilton library branches. Part of the Maplewood is Green initiative, the Kill A Watt allows residents to check power consumption and make informed decisions on electric usage.

In theory, and for the most part, in practice, it works. The Kill A Watt is about an inch and a half thick and six inches long. There a three prong plug on the the back. On the front is an LED screen, a row of buttons for various functions and the female version of the three prong plug. You use the device by plugging the electrical device you want to measure into the Kill A Watt and then plug the Kill A Watt into the wall. The device measures kilowatts used, the time elapsed and a few other cool bits of information. Should you need to know if your electric service is a normal 120v and 60Hz, the Kill A Watt can tell you.

But there are a few design features that make it hard to use it on the possible high consumption devices, like the refrigerator. Is that 12 year fridge as big a draw as I think it is. I’ll never know. You need to pull out the fridge to plug it. It’s not really convenient. The screen is not lighted, so you’ll need to flashlight to read it when its in a dark cramped space. The other design feature is the plug part is upside down. When you plug it in to the wall, the device blocks the other socket. On a power strip, it will block 2 or more sockets.

At first I though the device was broken. My cell phone charger and the cordless phone didn’t even register. I pulled out the hair dryer to make sure it wasn’t. The hair dryer registered.

On the plus side, I found out it costs me $14.89 a year to run the Verizon set top box in the TV room. My entertainment center in the man cave with a big screen TV, costs $252 a year if we do a lot of Netflix and Wii. Maybe we’ll turn that off when not it use. The computer set up with laptop, modem, printer and a few external hard drives costs $361 a year if I left it all on all the time. I don’t and won’t even think about it after this.

But each family needs to make their own decision as to what’s worth the hassle of unplugging and replugging the various devices. The entertainment center? It’s plugged into a surge protector power strip, so it takes a push of a button to turn it on and off. The computer set up? That’s a bit harder, since I use them quite a bit. The formula is easy. Find out the cost of electricity in your area. PSE&G is about $0.12 per kilowatt hour. Then find out how many kilowatts the chosen device uses per hour. Multiply the two and that’s it!

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  1. Why not plug a three-pronged extension cord into the wall and plug the device into it? Then you can do it all at eye level.

  2. Next….A reality show called “Extreme Greening”. “I got my utility bill down to pennies a month!” Ed Bagley Jr. could be the host. Watt the Fukishima is this all about anyway??

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