Thursday, January 31, 2013

To Kill A Watt

By Patty Dickinson

I have been interested in finding the kilowatt usage of some of the electrical items in my home. All you need is a "Kill A Watt" meter to do the testing. This handy little meter can be checked out from the Durango Public Library, La Plata Electric Association and the La Plata County Extension Office.

Note: If going to the library head for the Reference Desk. This is the first desk you come to after arriving on the second floor either by stairs or elevator. I recommend not asking at the information desk on the first floor (the first desk as you walk into the library), as not all employees are aware this handy item is available for check out. 

Instructions come with the meter but I also found the links here helpful along with this video.

This meter measures volts-amps (VA) (if appliance is on), watts, frequency in hertz, kilowatt hours (kWh) and phantom loads (if the appliance is off). I chose to do my experiment on phantom loads so I would know what appliances to leave unplugged unless in use. I thought that would be an easy way to start this experiment as I plan to do more later when I have more time so I can save even more money and be more energy efficient, which is my ultimate goal.

Once I started, I found myself really getting into this. I even had my son stop by to assist with a couple of these just for fun. Here are my results, and remember these are phantom loads (with the appliance off):

Appliance Watts / VA  kWh/Hour
Stereo 121.7 / 0 0.0 / 0
Curling iron 19 / 22 0.0 / 0
Floor lamp 0.0 / 0.0   0.0 / 19.56
Small "touch-on" lamp 19.9 / 0.0 0.0 / 0.0
Food processor 0.0 / 0.0 0.0 / 7.43
Blender   0.0 / 0.0 0.0 / 3:43

Note that the longer the appliance is left connected the more accurate the reading. 
I have several zeros for kWh/hr because I just took an immediate reading.

Appliances that cycle such as refrigerators and freezers should be left connected for longer periods (one to seven days) to produce a more accurate reading. I plan to do more research on my appliances/electrical devices using the other categories on the meter. I also plan on doing the actual kilowatt usage when these appliances are on.

If you're into saving money...give this a try!! Have fun and Kill A Watt!!

About the Author

Patty Dickinson began an internship at 4CORE on Oct. 2nd this year sponsored by SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment Program), a program to assist seniors re-entering the workforce. She came to Colorado in 1978 after graduating from a nursing program, fell in love with the state, went home to northern Illinois, packed her things, moved, and has been here for 34 years. She has worked as an administrative assistant for the State of Colorado and La Plata County after starting her career in nursing. Patty has an interest in resource efficiency and is very excited to be at 4CORE. When not training at 4CORE, Patty enjoys hiking, biking, wildlife observation, cooking, organic gardening and studying nutrition. She will begin working on her Nutritional Consultant certification and will be receiving that in the near future.

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