Ways to reduce electricity bills

How to Reduce Home Electricity Bills: Measure Power Consumption with an Energy Power Monitor

A modern home contains a lot of electrical devices, many of which are powered most of the time. It is easy enough to get an estimate of the power consumption by reading the meter at regular intervals, but this is inconvenient and easily becomes a chore.

The Energy power monitor retailing at about $99 gives a real-time display of instantaneous total power drawn in the home, and also tallies the consumption on a daily and weekly basis for review. It takes the chore out of monitoring the power drain, and at typical prices would pay for itself in a year if a householder manages to track down about 50 watts of continuous background power drain.

Energy picks up the current drain from a current transformer placed around the live incoming cable to the meter. No metallic contact needs to be made, and this information is conveyed to the small battery-powered transmitter that sends the current measurement every six seconds to the display/receiver, which can be up to about 20feet away indoors. The power consumption is easily viewable in real time, and in this way the homeowner can see what power is drawn at any time, and also what the cumulative power consumption over the day and week is. As well as showing this in kilowatt-hours, it can display the consumption as a cost and also the CO2 emissions associated with the energy used.

Monitor Electricity Power Hogs

Some appliances are known power hogs, such as kettles, washing machines and electric fires. However, these are often not used for very long in a day - even the most avid tea drinker will not run a kettle for an hour a day. Whereas some appliances that draw less power, like refrigerators, run all the time and can consume much more electricity in a week than a washing machine, even though the latter consumes more power when active.

Track the Creeping Background Power Load

What Energy does very well is to show the background power load. Because the display is portable it is possible to track down the appliances that contribute to this, and this makes one think about whether it is possible to isolate these loads, or place them on a common power strip and switch them off at night using a time switch. That saves electricity and also reduces potential fire hazard. Some apparently innocuous devices can draw a surprising amount of power - it was instructive to observe than the combined load of a PC and peripherals was about 150W

The Energy power monitor is not a magic bullet that will reduce power consumption overnight, However, by showing the owner the total power drain, and the cost, it provides an incentive to track down and switch off excessive background power drain. Additionally, by providing a baseline for typical power consumption, it flags up any changes introduced by adding a new device. Used intelligently, it could easily pay for itself in a year by changing a household's behavior.

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