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power consumption
compact fluorescent light bulbs
watt light bulb
fluorescent light bulbs
microwave oven
electric bills
Monitor Whole-House Power Consumption And Save Money
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Every month without fail your electric bill arrives in the mail. You put it in the stack with other bills and pay it just before the due date as you wonder about how to save on future electric bills.

When you take time to think about it, you can probably find many ways to cut your whole-house power consumption. If you're serious about cutting back on electricity use, start with a inventory of everything in your house that normally uses power.

Inventory electric power loads in your home

Take a look at your circuit-breaker panel (a.k.a. distribution panel). List the power rating for each circuit -- 15 amps, 20 amps, etc. Each circuit should also have a label indicating what part of your house is served by that circuit -- e.g., family room, kitchen, washer/dryer.

Now list the individual appliances on that circuit, e.g., wall outlet, ceiling lamp, porch lamp, etc. This task is easier if you also make a floor plan sketch showing where every outlet, built-in appliance and wall switch is located.

Finally, list the power rating for each appliance, e.g., 100-watt light bulb, 1000-watt microwave oven.

Once you've completed this inventory, you'll have a much better understanding of how electricity is used in your house. You'll know the total load on each circuit if all the appliance are switched on or running. You can tell approximately how much electricity you might save by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or by making sure lights are turned off when not in use, or by replacing older appliances with new EnergyStar appliances.

Monitor appliance electric consumption For a more precise inventory of the exact amount of appliance electric consumption used by each of your appliances, purchase an inexpensive plug-in appliance power meter.

Let's say you want to check how much electricity is actually being used by your refrigerator. Remove the fridge's power cord from the wall outlet and plug it into the appliance power meter. Then plug the meter back into the wall outlet. After a month, you can check the appliance power meter to see exactly how many kilowatt-hours of electricity was used by your fridge and how much it cost you to run it last month.

If your have an Insteon home automation network, you can check appliance power consumption with an inexpensive iMeter. Plug the iMeter into the wall outlet, plug the fridge into iMeter, set the iMeter monitor on your kitchen counter and quickly view your estimated monthly appliance electric consumption.

Monitor whole-house power consumption Each month your electric bill records the amount of electricity used by your home the previous. It is based on amount of electricity delivered to your house as measured by the electric meter owned by the power company attached to your house. Many older meters have a visible disk that rotates faster or slower depending on how much electricity your house is using.

You can monitor your own whole house power consumption by periodically reading your own meter. But that method is too inconvenient to be useful on a continuing basis.

Install an affordable personal household power meter and monitor so you can check your own real-time electricity use from the convenience of your home. You can get a personal household power meter that clamps around your existing power meter. It reads instantaneous whole-house power use based on how fast the meter's disk is spinning, It transmits its data wirelessly to a convenient monitor inside your home.

Watch this whole house power meter when you switch on an appliance and you'll see exactly how much more power is being used by your house and how much it is costing you. You can also use your computer to view these results.

Armed with a complete inventory of your house circuits, an appliance electric meter, and a whole-house power consumption meter and monitor -- you can make informed decisions on how to best reduce your electric bills and save money.

Street Talk

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