Putting A Dollar Figure On Home Energy Consumption

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – How much does it cost you to run your microwave? How about the washing machine? What about the lights in your bedroom?

Technology is now stepping in to answer all those questions and maybe save you some money.

There are two ways of looking at this and both are green.

The more you know about consumption of energy in your home, the more you can conserve. The more you conserve, the more you can save.

In KDKA-TV’s experiment, we used a device called an Envi Real Time Energy Monitor.

“If you are immediately seeing how much it’s costing you, I think you’ll think twice about leaving the room with the lights on,” Joe Jacobs from King Electric said.

With permission, Jacobs installed the monitor in the home of Kim and Sandy Dallow and Trevor Kyle.

“It makes you very cognizant of how much power a lot of your utilities use,” Kim Dallow said.

Suddenly gone were the wonderfully oblivious days of turn it on and leave it on.

After the device was installed, Trevor Kyle said the experience was eye-opening.

“Naturally, we’ve looked at it when the dishwasher’s running, when the microwave is running,” Dallow said.

“We would [have] never known that the toaster oven takes so much energy like a half a kilowatt” Kyle said.

“You just see that little dial go from 850 to 1.5 kilowatts that like you just doubled your usage, Sandy Dallow said.

In fact, we did our own microwave experiment and watched the usage rise, instantly and dramatically.

“It has just made me aware of how much energy we can waste and how much we can save if we just turn a few switches off and on,” Sandy Dallow said.

The Envi not only shows the power usage, but we programmed in the family’s current electric rate, so it shows the consumption in dollars and cents.

The Envi has also changed the family’s attitude on chandeliers.

“There’s five 75 watt light bulbs in there and you come in here and turn on the light to read the paper or something like that and that burns up a lot of energy as well, and I’m just saying I didn’t know that before,” Kim Dallow said.

Kyle said Envi’s constant monitoring provided another revelation.

“There’s so much use even during the night. I mean, all the things that are plugged in that take up energy like [televisions] even when they are turned off, they still take up energy, cell phone chargers,” Kyle said.

Despite the dollars and cents readout, there is no real way to quantify dollars saved. However, this is more about the long-haul habits rather than the monthly bill.

“There are certain things that if you just pay attention to them, you can cut back and save a bit of money,” Sandy Dallow said.

The Envi costs about $130. It is in the mainstream of prices for power monitors that range from about $100 and up.

Of course, the more you spend the more you’ll have to save to cover the costs.

While the power savers might claim you can save 25 to 50 percent on your electric bill.

They are careful not to put a dollar figure on your savings for good reason. Ultimately, it comes down to how much you learn from a device like this and what changes you are willing to make to your electric consumption habits.


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  • Chippy55

    Simply look at the wattage for ANY electric device in your home, and then look at your electric rate. For example, if the utility charges 8 cents per 1,000 watts, and your device is rated 5oo watts, then simple first grade math will tell you that it’s going to cost four cents to operate that device for one hour. Also note: A printer uses electricity even when it’s turned off, as does your TV and any device that has an adapter. The printer HAS to have electricity to it at all time in order to keep the ink from drying out. Every appliance you purchase MUST tell you how much it costs to operate. NOTE: The Obama administration is pushing for “smart” appliances, which will feed your usage information back to the Federal Government, which will alert them (and in some instance will cause appliances NOT to operate), for example, if you are trying to run your whole house air conditioner and washer at the same time.
    The Obama administration does NOT want you to be able to pick and choose what time you use your appliances, hence they want you to wash your clothes at night, after peak cooling periods have passed. This is because of dopey Liberal Democratic states like California, who want to govern how much electricity is being used. If you don’t believe that, look to New York where the dopey Liberal Mayor has seen fit to ban table salt from restaurants. This administration in Washington is turning the U.S. into a nanny state. Elections have consequences. You read it here first folks, “smart” appliances (from GE) will soon rule your lives.

    • jd

      10 years ago i would have said, “You’re crazy”…….now i’m just scared….lol

    • wewa

      sounds good to me.
      Dont be so rigid.
      Get used to life in the modern world with peak oil prices.
      Adjust your schedule accordingly, unless you are wealthy enough to keep doing what you’re doing, and pay for the privilege of doing laundry at noon.

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