What's Taking the Juice?
You can find out what is using electricity in your home, item by item, in a couple different ways. The first way is to simply unplug every in your home and then plug in one thing and a time and record it for an hour. Some items are easy to unplug like the fridge and freezer (yes, these can be unplugged for a bit – just do not open them during the time they are unplugged and remember to plug them back in – set an alert on your phone). Others, like the stove and water heater (if electric – do not turn off a gas water heaters or stoves – we are measuring electric usage) need to be shut off at the circuit panel.
Your circuit panel looks like this:
Consider which appliance you will test first. Maybe start with the stove. I have unplugged everything but the stove and am now testing how many kilowatts the stove will use when I bake something. I record the number that is showing on my meter. Turn it on, let it run for an hour – bake something – you don’t want to waste this use of electricity! Read your meter again. The difference in the two numbers will tell you how much per hour the oven uses. I can do this with the stove top burners as well. When I tested my oven, it used 5 kwh per hour.
I can do this with the dryer as well. Before, my meter read 1297, and after it was 1301 (a difference of 4 kwh). I had it running for an hour on high.
Option #2: Kill a Watt
The second way to measure is with an electric meter. I got mine on Amazon years ago – when my electric bill was running in the $1000.00 month range. This one is appropriately called the Kill A Watt.
I love this little device. It has been worth my investment to have one. When something new comes into the house, I can easily determine how it is going to increase my electrical bill.
You don’t even have to unplug the rest of your home. You just plug it in and then plug in your appliance into the device. At any time you can just push a button to see how much it is using. I like to leave mine on for 24 hours – especially the fridge, because it turns on and off so much.
For less than $20.00 this little device is handy. I’ve also heard that some libraries carry them for checkout. What a cool idea is that?!? When I’ve had friends who complain (err.. express concern) about their bill, I’ve lent it to them. I’ve bought them for Christmas presents. Can you tell I love these little devices?
Option #3: Wireless Home Electricity Monitor
You can also invest hundreds of dollars into whole house electric use monitors that you can check online at home or anywhere.
These are really neat as they tell which rooms in the house are costing you the most in real time. I drool over them but haven’t justified the cost yet and they do take somewhat of a professional to hook them into your circuit panel. Some of them even have a reoccurring monthly charge. When the price becomes less I may consider it.
Get a Kill a Watt – or borrow one, or unplug and record the meter while you test a specific item. If you can’t do everything in the house, pick one or two things. Anything that heats or cools is a great place to start. Next week, I’ll go over what I discovered was using the most electricity in my house. And we'll discuss the choices you and I can make, with the information we have, to slash our electric bill.