Use simple meters to track electricity in your home or small office

Data is so critical to making decisions. Yet tracking electricity data can be frustrating, since it can be difficult to get your hands on the data you need. Most utilities don’t give you more than the monthly total.

To address this problem in my home, I have been using the Black and Decker Power Consumption Monitor for about six months now, and I think it is great! It attaches to my electric meter outside, and measures how fast the meter spins. I can turn items on and off and see what they cost to run. This also gives me an estimate of what my monthly bill is actually going to be, instead of waiting for a surprise when the bill comes. Most people are not able to get this kind of detail on their bills without having a device like this.

Here are some examples of what I’ve discovered with this device:

Normal Electric use = $0.03-$0.04 per hour
Air conditioner on = $0.29-$0.38 per hour addtl
Water Heater on = $0.04-$0.12 per hour addtl

Some of these costs aren’t maintained the entire time. For example, the air conditioner doesn’t run 100% when its on, only while it’s trying to ramp up to the correct temperature, then it backs off and is in a maintain mode. The bottom line is that you can observe how these changes affect your costs.

Installation was pretty simple. All I had to do was make a simple hookup on the outside of my gas meter using a screwdriver. You do have to program the device (instructions inside pretty straight forward) and lookup your billing rates from your electric company, but it’s information you should be knowledgeable of anyways.

Cost is about $100, but you can make that money back with the knowledge you gain. Your meter is not usually in a place where you can see it, so “out of sight, out of mind!” This device reminded me that I was constantly using energy every time I saw it, so it did much more than just tell me how much I was using.  Check out the details at the link below.

Black and Decker Power Consumption Monitor

If you want to isolate the usage to a single piece of equipment, I recommend the Kill-A-Watt, which allows you to plug-in standard outlet devices, and measure the kWh and hours that it was plugged in.

These devices are both great ways to gather electrical data and practice determining how to prioritize where to focus, before you approach your company or larger client about reducing their efforts. If you can’t figure out how to setup and analyze these devices at your own house, you will struggle working with a larger facility to reduce their usage.