My Favorite Things: Black and Decker Power Monitor

While out of town last week I happened to be watching a piece on GMA about this device and immediately ordered it from Amazon.com for $92.  What the Black & Decker Power Monitor does is provide a real-time analysis of your power consumption in KwH and estimated costs.  As I’ve become more aware of how much I spend on utilities, being able to track consumption in a relatively easy manner is something I’ve been looking for.

The way it works is this:  in the box you receive the handheld monitor along with a sensor that you attach to the outside of your electric meter.    It takes less than 5 minutes, and includes a tag to let the meter reader know that this isn’t a gizmo that messes with their stuff and they should leave it along (my words, not theirs).  You press a button to start the synchronization, which causes it to track the frequency and speed of the meter dial (see the black mark in the picture below).

This is all that’s necessary to track the KwH usage.  To estimate your costs, you do some basic math using your electricity bill to figure out your $/KwH.  If you are like me, this was my first awareness of how much I was paying.  But once you plug that number in, you’ll start to see the cents per hour displayed and an estimate of your 30-day bill.

What’s really cool is being able to find out how much you spend on specific appliances and rooms.  By pressing the Tare button, you can turn on/off lights, etc. and it will display how much it costs!  For example, I found out that we almost doubled our costs whenever the kids were in the basement.  Why?  In addition to their playroom TV, Xbox and other games, there are 10 overhead lights on!  I quickly made a note to change the bulbs to CFLs and look into creating zones with separate on/off switches.

The family has also been taking this new information to heart – we keep the monitor on the table in the kitchen and the kids are always looking to see whether we are spending more or less money throughout the day.  It really helps them understand when I remind them to turn off lights in the rooms they leave.

So this is one of My Favorite Things now, and expect to have paid for it in electricity bill savings in about 3 months.   Highly recommended as a holiday gift too!

Update: today, Thanksgiving Day, we’re currently clocking at 56 cents an hour!  We’re normally in the 18-20 cents/KwH during the late afternoon and as low as 5-8 cents at night.