Action Guide

Be an Energy Detective!

Difficulty: Difficulty: 1 Expense: Expense: 1 Savings: 0 lbs CO2 / $0 Bookmark and Share

Suspiciously high electricity bills? Use a plug meter to measure individual electronics and find the offending energy hog.

Why You Should Do It

You've put in the energy efficient light bulbs, you're turning off lights like a champ - so why are your electricity bills so high?  An easy way to identify energy offenders is to use plug meters!  You can plug electronics and appliances into plug meters, which will give you a real time measurement of how much electricity they are using - then use our simple calculator to see how your appliance measures up to an efficiency standard (must be logged in - click on "My Plug Meter" in your Dashboard).

What It Costs

You can check out plug meters from many library systems and some utilities for free (see the resources on the right for more info), or you can purchase them for as little as $20. 

How to Do It

  1. See whether your local library system or utility lends out plug meters.
  2. Read the instructions!  To use the Energy Challenge calculator, you need to collect two data points - watts and hours.
  3. Pick the offending electronic or appliance to check.  We recommend 2nd fridges or freezers, dehumidifiers, televisions or desktop computers.
  4. Plug in your plug meter, then come back after a day and write down the watts and hours measured.
  5. Use our Plug Meter calculator (log onto "My Challenge" and click on the "My Plug Meter" tab) and find practical and simple recommendations for reducing energy costs.

Make It a Family Activity

Measuring the electricity use of appliances and electronics is a great opportunity to talk with family members about energy, where it comes from and how to use it responsibly at home.  We especially recommend using plug meters on televisions, video game consoles and computers - then talking about the cost of leaving eletronics on and plugged in when not in use.


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