As we all are facing ever higher costs for electricity, wouldn’t you like to know your cost to operate the lights, computers, TV, refrigerator, computer peripherals, washing machine, those little “wall wart” black boxes that power and recharge your gadgets, and so on?

Only with this knowledge can you also know when your efforts to conserve electricity, lowering your bills, is paying off and which efforts are to be credited.  A gadget that has been on the market for at least a couple of years does just this.  Kill A Watt EZ from http://www.p3international.com/ is the handy and informative gadget for this job. The retail price is about $60, but shop online and find it delivered in the low to mid-$40s.

I’ve worked hard around Gadget Central reducing our consumption of electricity.  The cost keeps increasing even as I use less electricity.  Now, I am learning where are those costs so I can see the fruits of my energy “de-consumption.”  I’m figuring what I can do to pay even less.

The gadget is simple.  Plug it in either directly or via an extension cord, either way so you can see and interact with its display, and then plug in the object of your study.  It works with only 120V items, so it’s not going to be helpful telling you how much is that 220V air conditioner or other higher voltage appliance.  For almost any electricity-sucking product, however, Kill A Watt EZ will accurately reveal the daily, weekly, monthly and annual cost to run your items.

Setup is easy, too.  Plug it in and press the SET button and the display allows entry via the up and down arrows of the cost per Kilowatt Hour of whatever is plugged in, said to be accurate within .2%.  It’s easy to learn your cost from your electric supplier. Take the monthly electric usage in Kilowatts divided by the monthly-billed amount.  That weeds through all the calculations for different rates for different tiers of usage and all that crazy stuff your utility puts in your bill that you can never fully understand.  It’s the cost per kWh, period.  In my case, my average is about 19 cents, consider all the high rate for some and the lowest rate for a very little amount of energy consumed that my electric utility, Southern California Edison, indicates is our base rate.

Once that one value is set and your electric device is plugged in, Kill A Watt EZ starts calculating.  The longer it’s plugged in, the more accurate will be the reading over time.  For example, your refrigerator cycles on and off, even if unopened.  The more it is opened, the more it has to cycle to maintain temperature and, if frost-free, the harder it has to work to maintain it without frost.  So, over a period of no more than one month, perhaps less, your family’s consistent usage will provide a good average of daily, weekly, monthly and annual power consumption that translates into cost.

In this example of the refrigerator, users can also learn the extent to which, more or less, purchasing a new refrigerator would actually save money.  Each new refrigerator, washer and dryer and so on has a label that lists the approximate cost of operation of that item over a year’s time at a given pre-set rate.  All you have to do is exchange your actual rate as determined above for what is on the label and do the math.  In that way, you will see if it is really worth it to get a new fridge.  In my case, though, it is a refrigerator more than 13 years old. My savings would be only about $40 per year, which makes it not at all worth paying $1000 or more for a new one, despite what my power company advises and even after their “generous” $50 rebate.  Hmmmm.

Figure out the actual cost of leaving on you computer and monitor, your printer, speakers and all those little things in and around the house.

As I did, you will learn the true cost of using that TV for a year, leaving it on for six hours per day or more.  Yikes!  Even with an Energy Star rating on my fabulous new Pioneer 50-inch Kuro plasma TV, the annual cost is about $130.  Well, at least I know.

And so it goes.  The more you know, the more you can do something about it.

I learned that I can cut down energy consumption PER light by a factor of almost half by switching to some of the new high-tech LED lights from today’s modern spiral compact fluorescents – from 15 Watts for about 7.5 Watts.  LEDs have no Mercury inside and are rated to run 30,000 hours while CFLs of this spiral type max out at a rated 12,000 hours.  Also CFLs start to produce less light as they age and wear. LEDs should show brightly until they fail, which even in use six hours per day would be almost 14 years!

Learning how much your appliances cost can tell you if they might save considerably if used less.

Learning the cost of the electricity consumed by those chargers and adapters, even when they are not charging or powering your gadgets is sobering, too.  If you were to use a power strip into which you connected multiple infrequently used or even daily, nightly charged devices could save a credible amount of money each year, year in, year out.

I am having so much fun learning how my appliances and gadgets are sticking it to me that I see many ways to economize in an easy and painless way.  I just have to be smart!

Now, it is up to you to empower yourselves with one or more Kill A Watt EZ devices around the house or office.  When you’ve finished your assessment, you can share your clever Kill A Watt EZ with others.  Be sure to use it every time you get a new electricity-using device, however. With that knowledge, you can make plans to save money.  It’s that simple.

You know the saying, “Knowledge is power.”  Never before have truer words been uttered.

In addition to the values mentioned earlier, among other things, Kill A Watt EZ also shows voltage in the line and the elapsed time since reset (reset to zero whenever the device begins measuring consumption of a different product).

Whenever possible, I will include y power consumption findings in future reviews as applicable, thanks to my Kill A Watt EZ.

For now, empower yourself and loved ones with one or more Kill A Watt EZ devices. Used to its fullest, it can help you to learn how to save a considerable amount of money every year by educating you about the amount of electricity your home or office consumes.  And you know your electric rates are NOT going down any time soon.

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