By Steve Graham, Networx

There is no shortage of advice for reducing electric use, but how do you know if your new CFL light bulbs and energy-saving practices are making a difference? Reading an electric meter practically takes an engineering degree, and your power bill is an imperfect and delayed measure of electric use. Power needs vary each month, and rates may also shift.


The best alternatives are, somewhat ironically, new electric devices. Watt-hour meters and whole-house energy monitors draw some electricity, but they can save far more power than they use.