Killing watts in Ottawa

For a while, I have been thinking about buying a Kill-a-Watt electrical meter, in order to test how much is used by various household appliances and electronics. The problem is, it doesn’t make hugely much sense to spend $30 to $50 on a device that you only really need to use once. As such, I was happy to discover that the Ottawa Public Library system actually has 142 of them available to be borrowed for free. There seem to be at least a few at every branch.

I plan to pick one up sometime this week and test the power usage of my computer, stereo, microwave, etc. I don’t think it will work with my washer or dryer, unfortunately.

[Update: 6 May 2009] I picked up a library Kill-a-Watt tonight, one week loan, no fuss, no deposit. I will post data when I have collected it.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Killing watts in Ottawa”

  1. I’ve used one and was surprised to find out my entertainment unit (Stereo, Computer tower, Satellite receiver and LCD TV) use ~40 watts when on standby! When running, it’s over 300watts.

    The downside is that its minimum power reading is 1 watt (no decimal places in watts mode), so it’s no good for very low consumption items.

  2. It probably would work with your washer, btw, it’s rated to a full 15amps. It will also tell you not only instantaneous usage, but cumulative in kW/h which means you could calculate the cost of a load of laundry if you so desired..

  3. I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work with your washer and dryer and oven and stove, you’ll just have to set it to 220volts.

  4. That is awesome news. I’ll keep that in mind if and when I finally get around to moving to Ottawa. In the meantime, I wonder if other cities offer those.

  5. “I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work with your washer and dryer and oven and stove, you’ll just have to set it to 220volts.”

    It fits only in a standard North American 120v socket, and only works for 120v appliances (of which a washing machine is one).

  6. I see. I didn’t realize that it actually plugged in. Ones I’ve seen before just clamp around the cable and test only current – you need to put in the voltage. This seems like a slightly inferior product – since you have no choice but unplug every device you want to test the power draw from.

  7. Perhaps manufacturers of large appliances should be required to build Bluetooth-style radio transceivers into them.

    These could allow people to easily track usage by appliance. They could also be control systems, letting people schedule high-load activities for off-peak times.

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