Monday, January 14, 2008

A Great Geeky Gadget

When my dad visited us last November, he brought us a fun gadget that is showing us how to save money on our electricity bill each month. It is the "Kill A Watt" power meter from P3 International.

We just plug the small Kill A Watt unit into a wall outlet and then plug our other stuff into it. It then tells us all about the energy consumption. It displays the line voltage and frequency, as well as information about how much power your appliance is using. There are readouts of amps, Volt Amps, Watts, as well as the power factor. If you leave something plugged in for a while, it also will tell you how many KWH the item has consumed during that time period.

We always notice that our electricity bill goes up in December and figured it was those pretty Christmas lights. This year I was able to see exactly how much power each string of lights was consuming. It's a lot of fun, and educational too.

One thing we learned is that our Laptop Computer uses less power while it is running than our desktop computer/dual CRT monitors/big Cambridge Soundworks speakers use even when they are turned "off." So now, when I'm not using the desktop computer system, we switch it all really and truly OFF at the wall! Equally amazing was how much power that whole conglomeration consumes when I'm actually working on the computer. When that desktop computer dies, it will be replaced by a (powerful) laptop for sure.

Here is an article on MSN about the Kill A Watt meter and another user's experiences. We just looked at a bill from WEB, the Bonaire power company, and our electricity costs about 40 cents US per KWH these days. So really turning off our desktop computer will save us about four times a much as that guy in the article reports.

The next thing I'm going to check is the power strip that our TV, home theater receiver, sub woofer, DVD player, wireless router, etc. are all plugged into. Depending on what kind of readings I see on the Kill A Watt meter, I may separate those devices onto two power strips. The cable modem, wireless router, and maybe the TV could stay powered up so they don' t "loose their brain" and the other stuff will get switched truly off.

We, of course, use fluorescent lights on the ceilings and in all our lamps. I'm also experimenting with a couple state of the art LED lights that screw into a regular light socket. They don't seem bright enough for prime time, but work great for background lighting, and the Kill A Watt says that they must be sipping their electricity through a really small straw.

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