Kill A Watt program

Monitor your energy usage


Looking to lower your electricity bill? Borrow one of the city's Kill A Watt meters (available free to residents) to help reduce your home's energy consumption and identify the power sucking appliances lurking in your home.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimate that:
  • Roughly 10% of your electricity bill comes from appliances that you have "turned off"
  • A typical home has about 40 products constantly drawing power
Kill A Watt meter
Even when turned off, many appliances continue to draw electricity. These phantom loads are accrued when an appliance is in standby mode and might be seen as the red light on your DVD player, the clock of your coffeemaker, or even the seemingly idle phone charger.

The Kill A Watt meter will help you to conserve energy by showing you which appliances should be unplugged when not in use, or which devices are energy inefficient and in need of an upgrade. Kill A Watt meters are available free for you to check out for 2 weeks at a time at either the Menlo Park Library or the Belle Haven Branch Library.

How it works


To use, simply plug the device into a wall outlet, and then plug in your appliance. The device measures energy consumption in kilowatt hours (kWh) for specific appliances. Using this value, residents can calculate how much each appliance costs to leave plugged in, and where potential energy bill savings can be achieved.

Check out the following review of what the Kill A Watt meter can do for your energy savings:
"The Kilo-A-Watt unit is very easy to use and helped me understand the energy usage in my house. I had a de-humidifier that was using up to $48/Month! My spare freezer in the garage is using $7/Month and my electric motorcycle uses less than $.01/mile."

Solutions


Once you determine the problem spots within your home, we recommend you purchase power strips to quickly and easily turn off multiple appliances at once, without having to unplug them from the wall. Some great areas to place your power strips include:
  • Your office (computer, monitor, speakers, modem, phone, printer, fax, router)
  • Your entertainment center (video game console, TV, DVD / Blu-Ray player, cable box)
  • Your kitchen (coffee maker, microwave, toaster oven, etc.)
Additionally, it's important to upgrade old energy-wasting appliances. The U.S. DOE's Energy-Saver website posts a list of typical wattage of various appliances. Make sure yours aren't energy vampires! Keep checking for new rebates to help you upgrade your appliances.

The U.S. DOE's Home Energy Saver website hosts many helpful ideas on how to save electricity and money, including a section specific to Appliances and Electronics Tips and a Home Energy Saver Calculator.


Additional resources for parents


Want to engage your kids in a sustainable lifestyle by teaching them about energy conservation and saving money? A great place to start would be to check out one of our two Energy Lite books and a Kill A Watt meter at the Menlo Park library or Belle Haven library. Sprouts of Hope, a Massachusetts Roots and Shoots group (the youth-focused organization founded by Jane Goodall), created Energy Lite and distributed it to libraries as a resource for kids and parents.

"We hope that children all over will read 'Energy Lite' and learn how they can act to save energy, money and the planet all at the same time."
 - Roots and Shoots

Additional resources for teachers


Grades 6-12
The Northwoods Stewardship Center in Vermont created a fun lesson plan that allows students to measure energy consumption and appliance efficiency in the classroom using Kill A Watt meters. View the lesson plan, which includes an introduction to energy, simple equations, and a discussion, below.
Grades 10-college
Students at the University of Central Florida competed in an energy conservation competition using Kill A Watt meters (among other energy saving techniques) to reduce their electricity consumption and save $27,000 in just one year! Scholarships provided a great incentive to get students motivated to participate. View the following article with a video about the project, as well as their starter's toolkit: