What's Watt: How Much Electricity Are You Using?

Reader Contribution by Staff

This week, I’ve been using a Kill a Watt at home. It’s a small meter that costs about $25, and you can use it to measure the electricity consumption of your appliances and home electronics. (There are other meters that do more or less the same thing, including the Watt Minder and the Watt’s Up.)

The way it works is simple. For any electrical appliance that you plug into the meter, it can tell you how many watts that appliance is using. Over time, it also adds up the kilowatt hours used, so you can relate that number directly to what’s on your electric bill.

Using the Kill a Watt is easy, and it’s easy to get a little carried away with it. I measured the energy use of every appliance and electrical gadget in my house, even when it required moving furniture. (Is your refrigerator running? As I write this mine is, and it’s using almost 150 watts!) On the other hand, if you’re just interested in a ballpark estimate of how much electricity each device uses, you can check out this list from the Department of Energy which has typical values for radios, coffeemakers, DVD players, washing machines and many other common appliances.

Once you’ve identified the electronics and appliances in your home that are using the most energy, you can target the areas where saving energy will save you the most money. For example, you might decide to start using energy efficient light bulbs, turn on the power saving settings on your computer, or replace inefficient older appliances with newer energy-efficient models.

Have you tried measuring your electricity use at home? Have you found easy ways to reduce it? You can add your suggestions to the comments field below.

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