A twofold problem - optimally utilizing scarce resources and the necessity of acting now to save the earth for future generations - is a dilemma faced by all of us who live in the modern world today. Utilities such as power are expensive and hit you where it hurts the most - your wallet! Then, there is the issue of conserving precious fossil fuels, while taking care to adopt as much ‘green technology' as is possible to prevent global warming! Keeping all this in mind, as individuals, it is up to us to strike the right balance and one of the small contributions we can make, is to measure and limit power consumption in our homes. The benefits you will reap are again twofold - spending less on power consumption in this tough economic climate; and looking for ways to get cheaper and environment-friendly sources of energy. To get started, here are a few instructions on how you can measure power consumption.
Take stock. To begin with, make a list of all the appliances and facilities, which require power to work. This should include all your kitchen appliances, television, washing machine, computer, music systems, etc; as well as geysers, heaters, humidifiers and the like. Of course, do not forget to add all the lights and fans, which are installed both indoors as well as outdoors, as well as any powered equipment, which you use for landscaping, yard work or the motor running the swimming pool.
Track the electric meter. You power company tracks the amount of power you utilize on a periodic basis (dependent on the billing system and frequency), with a meter installed on the premises. At every billing cycle, make a note of the opening and closing readings taken from the meter and the resultant wattage of electricity used.
Consumption per appliance or facility. Calculate individual consumption by each appliance or facility, and make a list of this usage. One way to do this, is to read through the appliance energy guides and find out what is the power consumption rate of each of them. Another way, is to use an ammeter, which can be clamped on to the appliance, and it will record the power consumed when the appliance is used.
Calculating the power consumption. Once you have a full listing of the appliances and facilities requiring power, with their respective wattages, add up all the watts to get your total consumption. Add about 20-30 percent of extra power consumption, to account for reserve power usage and the power required to start-up various appliances.
Next, calculate the number of hours each appliance or facility is used. For example, how many hours it takes for the washing machine to do your normal laundry load. Appliances such as the refrigerator, will get tagged with 24-hour usage.
Once you've calculated the daily number of watts used for all the items on your list and added the reserve amount, multiply this total by 365 to get the yearly total. Ideally the total wattage that you arrive at, must or less match the yearly consumption recorded in your power bills. A difference of up to 10% is acceptable, but if it much higher than this, you will need to investigate, if there is a billing error by the power company, or there is some important item which you've not taken into calculation.
Armed with the information listed above, you are now in a position to make informed judgments on where you can cut down or regulate your power usage. You can also consider using alternate sources of power, which are cheaper and cleaner, for items, which consume large watts of power. After all, ‘information is ‘power'!