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There’s an old adage the states “You cannot manage, what you do not measure”! When it comes to lowering your electric bill, measuring your electric consumption is a fantastic way to reduce your electric expense, even without the expense of an upgrade.
Now you might make the argument that your electric consumption is already being measured at the meter. While that’s true, you don’t see that consumption until your bill arrives a month or more AFTER the consumption has already happened. Too late to manage that bill, all you can try to manage is how to pay the bill!
To easily manage your consumption, you must have an easy way to measure your consumption! And you must be able to see it happen as it happens. You could stand and stare at your electric meter while a friend or family meter switched items in your home off and on. But, truth be told, even an energy efficiency nut like me will not work that hard. What I wanted was something simple and inexpensive that would make it a game to save energy and money.
The first attempt was with a “Kill-A-Watt-EZ”. This gadget plugs directly into your wall outlet, and then you plug the device to be measured into the Kill-A-Watt-EZ. After the device being measured has been in use for a few hours, the Kill-A-Watt-EZ calculates the cost to run your device on a per hour, day, week, month and annual basis. Kind of fun, and a great way to begin understanding what it really costs to operate each item in your home.
Using the Kill-A-Watt-EZ I discovered that television consumed $52.16 of electric per year, and that my coffee maker was costing me $2.57 each year. I’ve now measured most every piece of equipment in my home as well as my office.
You can purchase your own Kill-A-Watt-EZ for about $30 or JEA has made them available for free to check out from any Jacksonville Library as part of the “Back-Pack Audit” program.
I also discovered that it was taking a lot of time to get a reading from every device, so I began the search for an easier way to continually monitor my consumption. That’s when I found The Owl! The Owl is a wireless monitor that shows how much electricity you are using at any given instant. As each device in your home switches on, you can instantly see the cost to operate that device.
The Owl also gives you a read-out for each days cost and consumption as well as weekly, monthly and annual costs. It is fast and fun to measure what each device consumes. And it makes it easy to choose how best to save based on you and your homes exact consumption habits.
When I brought the Owl into my office it was met with mixed reactions. For sure, my staff is accustomed to my frugal consumption habits, but now with the Owl, they were able to see instantly the cost of every action! And the real savings of simply turning off what was not in use.
The most profound discovery was Amie in my front office discovering that the small space heater she was using under her desk to warm her feet, was consuming and costing as much as the heat pump that heats the whole office. She has seen the ill of her ways and abandoned the under desk space heater. No doubt the computer that was also under the desk is also grateful at the removal of the space heater!
So is there really a return when you increase your insulation, upgrade your heat pump and consider installing a solar water heater, you bet there is! Monitoring devices can never make your home more efficient, but they will make you more efficient! And when you do make upgrades, you will reap even greater rewards with the help of your own efficient behaviors.
Want to easily and instantly manage your energy consumption, it all starts with measurement!

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll really enjoy Wally Conway’s book, “The Home Inspection Secrets of A Happy Home Inspector“! Also, checkout what people are saying about HomePro Inspections!