Wattmeter Home Checkout Kit
Austin Energy is providing wattmeters to all City of Austin Public Libraries for check out to Austin residents. The first step to energy savings is finding out exactly how much energy your household is using. That begins with finding out exactly how much energy each appliance is using.
What’s A Wattmeter?
Wattmeters are devices that read the amount of electricity used by typical household appliances. They can be plugged into any standard 110 volt electric outlet. To find out how much the electricity used by each appliance, simply plug the appliance into the wattmeter. The wattmeters available for checkout at Austin Public Libraries have been programmed with the average year round cost of electricity provided by Austin Energy. Customers can scroll through the hour, day, week, month and year to find out how much each device costs to run.
Energy savings can be achieved a number of ways, many free and easy steps can reduce your energy use. Energy improvements can be made to your home through one of Austin Energy’s energy efficiency programs. You can also find out the largest energy using appliances in your home through the use of the wattmeter and evaluate your use of them. You may find savings by investing in more energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR models, using appliances more carefully, and taking steps to reduce waste by reducing phantom load.
What is Phantom Load?
Phantom loads are caused by appliances and electronic devices that draw power while they are switched off or are in standby mode. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 10 percent of the average household’s electricity use is wasted by phantom load.
Reduce Electric Waste
Test your home for phantom load first in these areas of your home: entertainment centers, offices, bathroom vanity areas and garages where cordless tools are charging. Common sources of phantom load include battery and phone chargers, laptop computers, any device with converters from AC to DC, digital displays, LED status lights and digital clocks. The typical home has more than 40 devices that draw phantom load.
- Use power strips and surge protectors. Plug devices such as TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo systems, computers and gaming systems into power strips and switch them off when not in use.
- Use smart strips for some applications. A smart strip will power down any related devices once you turn one of them off. These strips also include “always on” outlets for devices that you do not want to turn off.
- Unplug. Unplug chargers from the wall once the charging is complete.
- Use timers on surge protectors and other devices. When you use an appliance on a regular schedule, a timer is a good idea, especially when outlets and surge protectors are located in hard to reach areas.
- Use the other “off” switch. Many devices have an off switch in the back. For example, many computers come with a soft power switch in the front, which takes it from standby to on. Separately, another power switch (the real one) is located in the back, near the power cord.