Electricity usage monitors are easy to use and can measure the electricity usage of any device that runs on 120 volts. (But it can’t be used with large appliances that use 220 volts,
such as electric clothes dryers, central air conditioners, or water heaters.) You can buy electricity usage monitors at most hardware stores for around $25-$50. Before using a
monitor, read the user manual.
To find out how many watts of electricity a device is using, just plug the monitor into the electrical outlet the device uses, and then plug the device into the monitor. It will display how
many watts the device uses. If you want to know how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity the devices uses in an hour, or a day, or longer, just leave everything set up and read the
Monitors are especially useful for finding the amount of kWh used over any period of time for devices that don’t run constantly, like refrigerators. Some monitors will let you enter the
amount your utility charges per kilowatt-hour and provide an estimate how much it cost to run the device since it was plugged into the monitor.
Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of stand-by power when they are switched "off." These "phantom loads" occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as
televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Most phantom loads will increase the appliance's energy consumption a few watt-hours, and you can use a monitor to
estimate those too. These loads can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
Follow these steps for finding the annual energy consumption of a product, as well as the cost to operate it.
|Calculating Appliance Energy Use
Determining how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use can help you understand how much money you are spending to
use them. Use the information below to estimate how much electricity an appliance is using and how much the electricity costs so you can
decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance.
There are several ways to estimate how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use:
|I. Following the steps above, find the annual cost to operate an electric kettle.
1. Estimate of time used: The kettle is used several times per day, for about 1 total hour.
2. Wattage: The wattage is on the label and is listed at 1500 W.
3. Daily energy consumption:
(1,500 W × 1) ÷ 1,000 = 1.5 kWh
4. Annual energy consumption: The kettle is used almost every day of the year.
1.5 kWh × 365 = 547.5 kWh
5. Annual cost: The utility rate is 11 cents per kWh.
547.5 kWh × $0.11/kWh = $60.23/year
|II. Following the steps above, find the annual cost to operate a paper shredder.
1. Estimate of time used: The shredder is used for 15 minutes per day (0.25 hour).
2. Wattage: The wattage is not listed, but the current draw is listed at 3 amperes.
120V × 3A = 360W
3. Daily energy consumption:
360 W × .25 ÷ 1000 = 0.09 kWh
4. Annual energy consumption: The shredder is used about once per week.
0.09 kWh × 52 = 4.68 kWh
5. Annual cost to operate: The utility rate is 11 cents per kWh.
4.68 kWh × $0.11/kWh = $0.51/year
If you want more detailed data on your home's energy use (as well as the ability to measure the energy use of 240-volt appliances), you might consider installing a whole-house
energy monitoring system. The features of these systems vary, and the cost and complexity depends on the number of circuits you want to monitor, the level of detail of the data, and
the features available. The monitors are often installed directly in the main breaker panel of the home, and some may require an electrician to install. Some monitors must be
connected with your home's wireless network and data is viewed on a computer or smartphone, while others come with a dedicated display.
In addition to providing information on the energy consumption of your appliances, these monitors help you understand where and when you use the most energy, allowing you to
develop strategies to reduce your energy use and costs.
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