Your Green Life: Watching Your Watts

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM CDT

It's a simple device, but best of all, you can check it out free from your local library.

It is called a Kill–A–Watt or a Watt Hour Meter, and it can pinpoint the problem of your increasing electric bill.

"You plug it into the wall, you plug the appliance right into this, and it's measuring, it's showing you what the consumption of the appliance is. So you can calculate what the monthly cost would be on an appliance," said Dean Talbot of Minnesota Power.

Old refrigerators can cost consumers $8-12 per month while dehumidifiers can cost you another $30.

But, if you're really trying to take major steps to lower your electrical consumption, and are willing to spend a little to save a lot, a device called a Power Cost Monitor could be another option.

"It gives a customer real–time feedback on their electrical consumption so they get used to looking at, and they know if it is used at 4 cents, or 8 cents, they can see if something is left on in the house," said Talbot.

Here's how it works: the appliance has two components. You self–install the hose clamp around your electrical meter and the small arm measures the rotation of the disc inside sending this information to a device in your home which displays how much you are spending each day on electricity.

Then you can track when your usage is spiking and make efficient changes around your home.

Hydro One, an electrical utility in Ontario, performed a study finding that this device helped customers reduce their electric energy usage 6.5-15% depending on what they had in the house.

"People make behavioral change. The idea by seeing real time electrical consumption on the house, it makes them a little more in tuned on what their current consumption is," said Talbot.

Power Cost Monitors can only be purchased online and will cost you about $150.