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How To Use A Kill A Watt Power Monitor To Save Energy

Updated on October 19, 2011

A Killawatt Power Monitor

The Kill a Watt power monitor.
The Kill a Watt power monitor.

How To Use A Kill A Watt

The Kill A Watt or Killawatt is a device that you can use to find out just how much energy an appliance is using. More and more Americans are trying to reduce the amount of electricity they use, either to save money or to help the environment and using a Kill A Watt is an excellent way to start.

Many devices including TV's, cable boxes, phone chargers and kitchen appliances use some power when they are plugged in, even if they are off. Your satellite TV box can use as much as an incandescent light bulb when it is in the off position.

There are many other devices that draw power in the off position. These "phantom loads" or "standby loads" as they are called can add up to a lot of power use.

One study by the US Energy Department estimated that phantom loads or standby power accounted for seventy percent of electricity use by home electronics including stereos and televisions.

Using the Kill A Watt

The Kill A Watt power monitor has five push buttons on the face below the display. The are volts, amps, watts, hertz and kilowatt hours.

Plug the device you want to test into the plug on the Kill A Watt which is plugged into a wall socket. Press the watt button to see how many watts the device is drawing in the off position. Then you can switch the appliance on and see how many watts it draws.

Next you can check the Kilowatt hours used. If you leave the appliance plugged into Kill A Watt power monitor for several hours you can get a very accurate reading of how much it uses. Multipy your local electricity rate in cents times the number of kilowatt hours and you can find out how much the appliance is costing you.

Power Strips

Once you identify all of the phantom loads in your home you can begin to solve the problem. One of the best ways is to put the worst offenders on a power strip with a switch. You can turn one switch off and eliminate several phantom loads, such as in an entertainment center, at the same time

You may find that it takes a few seconds for TVs or cable boxes to power up but you will be saving much more energy than leaving the devices plugged in.

The Myth Of "Leave It On"

It is a myth that light bulbs or electronics use more energy to start up than they save by being unplugged. Even large fluorescent lights, with a ballast should be turned off to save energy. It takes only a few extra watts for a few seconds to start up appliances and lights.

How To Use A Kill A Watt Power Meter

Do You Have Any Idea How Much Power Your Various Appliances Use?

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  • doodlebugs profile image

    doodlebugs 6 years ago from Southwest

    I use a Kill a Watt power meter weekly in my job as a home energy rater. It's a good tool and very accurate.