Save Money on Electricity with This Handy Tool

Nova Scotia Power (NSP) recently announced that power rates are going down just under a percentage point. Any savings is welcome news, but you’re always up for saving even more. You know about turning the thermostat down and LED lights. But did you know about the phantom load?

A phantom load is any appliance that uses electricity while doing nothing. Think of the clock on your microwave. It still takes power to run that clock, but you’re not cooking anything. Look around the house. Anything that you aren’t using, but has a light on, is a phantom load. They’re all using power and costing you money, just sitting there. We should call them politician loads.

There are other things that draw a phantom load, but don’t have a light on them. They could be keeping a trickle of power going so they start up faster when you turn it on. Remember when you used to have to turn on your TV and let it warm up? You don’t have to do that now, thanks to the phantom load.

But how much do these phantom loads cost? And how do we find them? That’s where the Kill-A-Watt P4400 meter comes in handy. Unplug an appliance, plug in the Kill-A-Watt, and then plug the appliance into the Kill-A-Watt. The Kill-A-Watt will tell you what’s going on.

kill-a-watt electricity use monitoring tool

It will tell you how many kilowatt hours (kWh) the appliance uses. It can even forecast how much it’ll cost to run the appliance. It’ll even tell you how many volts, amps, watts, hertz, and volt-amps the appliance uses. You probably don’t need that information, though.

Kilowatt hours used is the most important number to know. NSP charges you based on how many kWh you use in a day. Let’s say they charge 14 cents per kWh. Let’s also say you’ve got an appliance that draws 1 kWh per day while doing nothing. “Pfft. That’s only 14 cents a day.”, you say.

Sure, but 365 days times 14 cents is $51.10 a year. Wouldn’t you rather that be in your pocket than NSP’s? Find two or three items like this and that’s some serious savings. Now that you know the phantom loads are there, you can unplug them when you’re not using them.

You can find the Kill-A-Watt meter at various hardware stores, and online retailers, for about $25. Killing just one phantom load could make the meter pay for itself quickly. Happy money saving…and computing!

Image Credit: P3 International/Shutterstock

First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 22, No. 1, January 6, 2016

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