Kill A Watt Monitors

Which appliances are such energy hogs that they need to be replaced? How much energy am I paying for when plug-in lamps and appliances are left on? Now there is an easy way to figure these things out.

Starting in 2011, the Howard County Library System (HCLS) have been lending “Kill A Watt” monitoring devices. These were generously donated to HCLS by the Sierra Club, Howard County Group. There are 11 devices available for 3-week loan. If you have an HCLS card you will be able to borrow or reserve Kill A Watts just as you would other library materials. Search the library catalog at

The Kill A Watt is easy to use. Basically, you plug it into a standard outlet and plug the electric device into the Kill A Watt. The Kill A Watt indicates electricity usage in watts, kilowatt-hours, costs, and other measures. You can set it to record the energy use over a period of time.

Fight “Vampire Loads”

Many electrical devices and appliances use energy even when you are not using them. This is called a “vampire load.” Any appliance that has a remote control is actually “on” even when it is “off.” Gaming consoles, especially older models, are notorious vampires.

Have Fun

The Kill-A-Watt is interesting and fun to use. It could make a great student science project (with adult supervision, of course) or classroom activity.

What Changes Can You Make After Using the Kill A Watt?

  • Change your habits. Does the cell phone charger always have to be plugged in, even when not charging? Simple changes like these can add up to real differences.
  • Use power strips so that you can easily shut off all power to a “family” of appliances like a stereo system.
  • Use “split” or “smart” power strips. These allow some electronics to be kept on while allowing others to be turned on and off easily. For example, you need your DVR to record your favorite reality TV show or nature program, so that HAS to stay on, but you can save energy and money by turning the TV and game console all the way off.
  • Make sure your computers, printers, etc. go to “sleep” mode when they are not used for a period of time. You should probably make this change anyway, but you can use the Kill A Watt to see how much you are saving, or how much you would save by turning it all the way off when not in use.

Make Smart Purchases – Use It to Help You Shop

  • In the market for a new computer? Figure out what your pc and monitor use, then research how much less new ones or a laptop would use.
  • Thinking about getting a new appliance? Determine how much energy yours uses, then compare that to new energy-efficient models. Finding out the energy used by your old refrigerator could help justify the purchase of a new, energy efficient one.