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Bringing energy awareness to my home   

Tags: Avista Utilities, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Idaho

Library Energy Efficiency Kit
The Idaho Public Library offers free energy
efficiency kits to borrow which include energy
efficiency tips and a P3 Kill A Watt™ meter along
with instructions.
Borrowing a free energy efficiency kit from your local library is a no-cost, easy way to learn about your energy usage
Post by Sarah Hilbert
I’m definitely feeling the change of seasons. My alarm clock wakes me up in the morning only to be welcomed by that stinging cold feeling once I stumble out of bed. Time to turn that thermostat up (a little).

The only thing that will remotely wake me up is a nice warm shower; it warms the soul and helps me to open my eyes.

Here at Avista, we love to profess how being energy efficient is good for everyone, our environment and our future. I completely agree. But wow, it sure is getting cold.

To do my part, especially since it’s Energy Awareness Month, I decided to learn how to intertwine the tried and true energy efficiency practices with my levels of comfort. Try to make it a win-win situation for everyone.

The energy efficiency kit
The Idaho Public Library is a great place to learn for free, including learning about energy awareness and efficiency. I borrowed an efficiency kit from the library which includes a P3 Kill A Watt™ meter along with instructions, and energy efficiency tips – all for free.

P3 Kill A Watt
The Kill A Watt™ displays a bevy of information
such as kwhs used, plug-in time, voltage, current,
watts and more.
If you are a library card holder of any Idaho Public Library, you can obtain one of these handy kits. Simply go to the library and check it out. The free energy efficiency kit was made possible through Avista, the Idaho Libraries Commission, Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

How it all worked
I took the kit home with me and went about my routine as I normally would, except I remembered to plug in the P3 Kill A Watt™ meter into the outlet, then my appliance, into the meter. Here are highlights of where this meter went:

Lighting: Lamps and overhead lighting. Daylight Savings Time is close on our heels. The night is coming sooner and so, the lights come on. The problem: I probably could use one less light or two and get by. I am also guilty of leaving the lights on and walking away. Usage in one hour (one plugged-in light): 0.01 kwhs

Cooking: Microwave. Minimal use here (I’m no domestic goddess, plus the last thing I want to do after working out is cook). Usage: 0.03 in six minutes equals 0.3 kwhs in one hour.

TV: News and perhaps an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Pawn Stars” or even “The Biggest Loser.” Who’s losing on this one? Me. I’ve been guilty of leaving the TV on and walking away. Usage in one hour: 0.12 kwhs

Wii console: Tennis anyone? I play a mean game of Wii table tennis. I may also use it to watch some Netflix movies. Usage in one hour: 0.01 kwhs.

Computer: Oh the many things a computer has to offer. We have a love-hate relationship. Though I can’t imagine life without it, I tend to forget about it when it’s on. I have been known to leave the house with a powered on computer. Usage in one hour: 0.15 kwhs.

The Stats
Once the Kill A Watt™ was plugged in, I took a look at the meter after an hour and pressed the kilowatt-hours button (KWH) which is how energy is measured and priced. The device told me how much energy I had used in an hour. It can also tell me the amount of time it’s been plugged in (up to 9,999 hours), the voltage (Volt), current (Amp), watts (Watt), frequency (Hz), power factor (Pf) and volt amps (VA).

Now, I’m not a big fan of complicated math equations, hence one of the reasons I chose communications as my career path; but I found the formula to calculate the usage recorded by the Kill A Watt™ meter to be quite painless. Since this is an Idaho kit, I used Avista’s Idaho electric residential rates.

Appliance: Computer
KWHs used in one hour x Rate = Costs per hour of use x hours used per month = Cost per month
.15 KWHs x $0.07761 = $0.0116415 x 120 hours ≈ $1.40

I made it even easier on myself and downloaded an Excel spreadsheet which tracks and calculates my energy usage.

Being aware and taking care
I believe awareness of my energy use is much like awareness of my 401k performance. I reduce my risks by knowing what’s going on and having more control over it.

Though there is a second part to this process. Knowledge can indeed be powerful; however, knowledge without action is just wasted effort.

So next time I need to leave the living room while watching TV, I’ll remember how much energy I could potentially save and I’ll turn it off. The same goes with lighting and my computer.

Now that I know how my appliances use energy and the cost of that energy, I plan to make a conscientious effort to be strategic about my consumption and curb my use.

Every little bit does add up. What seems like cents on the dollar for an hour or even a month really adds up over time. The greatest part of all – a free lesson in energy efficiency, no-cost tips, plus a free meter to make it real for me – all available at the local library. That’s something I can take with me wherever or however I live.

If you live in Idaho, you can take advantage of this free program. If you live in any other state, a P3 Kill A Watt™ meter can be easily purchased for about a week’s worth of trips to your local coffee shop (around $20) and you can be on your own journey to energy enlightenment. 
If you have an Idaho Public Library Card, you're in luck
If you are a library card holder of any Idaho Public Library, you can obtain one of these handy kits. Simply go to the library and check it out.

The free energy efficiency kit was made possible through Avista, the Idaho Libraries Commission, Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

Posted by  System Account  on  10/19/2010
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