Tracking the Whole House

Once you determine the power load on individual outlets, you can check and control the overall household consumption with the Energy Detective. This $200 system is wired to your main circuit breaker and displays real-time energy usage to the second. For example, if you open the refrigerator door, the Energy Detective reading should jump 20 watts to account for the refrigerator light.


A 2008 U.S. Department of Energy study found that knowing and tracking energy consumption dropped the average household's energy use by 10 percent. You will probably be more conscientious about turning off lights if you see the wattage increase every time you flip a switch.

Google is also making tracking easier. The Energy Detective is the first device approved for use with Google PowerMeter, which allows users to track and analyze household energy use from any computer or Internet-enabled device. Google PowerMeter graphically shows the change in usage over time, and compares current consumption to usage by neighbors, friends and comparable households. It also links to specific suggestions for energy savings.


As they say, knowledge is power. In this case, power knowledge is power savings. Learn how much power your devices and your whole house regularly draw, and use that information to cut your power bills.