Energy-Efficient Habits
Keep an Eye on Your Electrical Use
The Kill-A-Watt provides valuable information about your energy use

Devices such as the Kill-A-Watt give instant electricity readings.

Learning to track how much electricity your home consumes is a great way to start managing your home’s electric use.

You can purchase devices at stores that provide a constant, digital reading of how much electricity your home—or an individual appliance—is using. One type of device, such as the Kill-A-Watt, fits between an electrical outlet and an appliance to give you an instant reading of how much electricity an appliance draws.

Another type connects to your electricity meter and wirelessly relays information on use to a small screen inside. Called an in-home display, the device looks similar to a wireless weather monitor and can help make consumers more aware of energy being used day to day. Research conducted by the Cooperative Research Network (CRN), the research arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, shows that most consumers who have an in-home display use less energy than those without one. And even after homeowners stop paying attention to the devices, most still use 1 to 3 percent less energy than before.

“The question of whether in-home displays catch on and become permanent fixtures in the American home is still open,” said Brian Sloboda, program manager with CRN. “However, for anyone wanting to take a proactive approach to understanding electric consumption, the in-home display may be worth exploring. You could use the knowledge that an in-house display provides to change the way you use electricity in your home and save some money.”

There’s also the old-fashioned way of tracking electricity use: reading your meter. As your home draws current from power lines, your electricity meter keeps a steady record of every watt being used. Many meters today are digital, replacing the older design that uses spinning discs and dials.

Digital versions make tracking energy use a breeze: Jot down the number you see and check it again in a month. The difference between the two represents the amount of electricity that has been used for that month or a typical billing period. Check it more frequently to get an idea of how you use electricity in a given week, or even day by day.

To read an older model meter (with spinning dials), write down the numbers as shown on the small dials from left to right. Some of the dials spin clockwise, some counterclockwise, but record each number closest to the dial hand. Once you have the full reading it can be compared to later readings, as described above.

If you have any questions about reading your meter or learning more about how much electricity your home uses, please contact your electric cooperative.