Save Money / Consumer News

Do energy monitors really work?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just how much energy are you wasting when you don't shut down your computer or when you leave the juice running to your television? We teamed up with Consumer Reports to test out power meters to see if they can really help you cut your electric bill.

Turning off lights is one energy-saving move for Andrea Colao.

"The bills were just getting out of control," said Colao.

Now there are energy monitors that can help you determine how much electricity your devices and appliances are using.

Consumer Reports just tested two -- the $25.00 Kill A Watt and the $96.00 Watts Up. You plug any 120-volt appliance into the meter, like a space heater, microwave, or TV. Then a screen shows you how many watts the appliance is using.

To test for accuracy, Consumer Reports tracked two energy guzzlers: a computer and a refrigerator. Then testers compared the results to a calibrated watt-meter. Turns out both devices were accurate.

"Both devices show you how much electricity your appliances and electronics use, so certainly if that encourages you to use them less, all the better," said Jim Nanni, Consumer Reports.

However, Consumer Reports says you don't need an energy monitor to cut your electric bill.

"There are many things you can do to reduce your electrical costs," said Nanni.

Target electronic equipment like your TV or computer that use electricity even when not on. Plug all of your equipment into a power strip. Then you have only one switch to turn off.

Also do what Andrea does. "I have become very conscious of unplugging small appliances and shutting off the computer."

And Consumer Reports says don't forget to unplug power cords when not in use, like the ones you use for your cell phones.

Another way to save is to use your appliances during the lower-cost hours of the day. Those hours can vary, so check with your utility company.


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