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Savings Guide

Knowledge is power: Power Meters and your energy saving plan

How to save electricity

You’re clued in, and you want to be part of the solution. You know that everything you use in your home – from the television to the dishwasher – needs power to operate, and that power costs you money, costs the world resources, and somewhere along the line produces pollution that is causing worrying changes in the world, as we watch. You’ve installed the newest energy saving products, energy efficient appliances, and standby power switches like the EcoSwitch and are open to any other ideas – solar power, smart thermostats, lifestyle changes.

But that’s not enough.

It’s not enough because this sort of blind approach is not the most efficient way to approach energy saving. What you need, in addition to the energy saving switches and the power reducing products, is information. Which appliances are using the most power? How much power is being used, and how much power are you saving once you institute your reforms and lifestyle changes? To answer these questions (and many others), you need a Power Meter.

Are you Saving Energy? Find Out with a Power Meter

A Power Meter is a simple device. Typically it has standard power prongs on the back, and an LED screen and a standard power outlet on the front. You plug it into the wall, then plug in your appliance or other device to the front of it (or, if you’re using one, an EcoSwitch and then the appliance or device). Then you simply use the device normally over a period of time, and the Power Meter informs you of how much energy the appliance has used.

Power Meters aren’t necessarily expensive, so buying one or two and conducting a long-term audit of your energy use and energy savings is easy, especially since installation is simple and once installed you can just let it sit there, collecting data, until you’re ready to read the data. This means you can use a Power Meter to both determine which appliances or devices in your home are using the most energy, and then use it to determine whether the steps you take to mitigate and reduce energy use in your home are really working.

Example Scenarios

For example, consider your purchase of an EcoSwitch. You install it between the wall and your oven in order to eliminate standby power used by your oven for unnecessary things like the clock (which you never use) or the oven light you constantly forget to turn off when the cookies are done baking. Is it worth it, or could your EcoSwitch be put to better use on the television?

So, you invest in a Power Meter. You can buy a perfectly good one for about $40, and the power meter itself only costs about $1 a year to run. You plug it in between the wall and the EcoSwitch on the oven for a week, then move it and the EcoSwitch to the TV. You may be surprised to discover that your TV, which hangs on the wall dark and silent most of the time, actually sucks more power when it’s in standby mode than almost everything in your kitchen (aside from the refrigerator).

Knowledge is Power

Now you’re working with real data instead of third-party anecdotes and assumptions. Now you can slowly figure out where the real power vampires are in your home and make appropriate adjustments. You can purchase only as many energy saving switches or other energy saving devices as are actually needed in your home.

And then, once you’ve installed the energy saving tools of your choice, you can use the Power Meter further to determine the impact of lifestyle changes on your power consumption. If you use the microwave less, does it result in noticeable power saving? What happens if you lower your thermostat in the cold months but end up using a space heater more often? These and many other experiments using a Power Meter can be used to refine your approach, measure your results, and inspire new ways of saving energy and making your personal carbon footprint as small as possible – while knowing with certainty that your efforts actually get results.