Tuesday June 18, 2024

P3 International 4460 Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor Review

First Impressions
The Kill-A-Watt was nicely sealed in plastic packaging, nothing special there. I'm not a huge fan of products sealed in plastic that require you to destroy the packaging to get the contents out, but I can understand why companies do this (deter theft, limit products returned "as new", etc). A small manual is also included to explain how to use the Kill-A-Watt, as well as safety & care instructions. The Kill-A-Watt itself had a small row of buttons and looked pretty straight-forward -- plug your appliance into the Kill-A-Watt, plug the Kill-A-Watt into the wall and off you go!

Using the Kill-A-Watt
I don't normally read manuals all the way through -- just kind of skim them over to see if there's something important I need to know to avoid electricuting myself or blowing something up :) The Kill-A-Watt seemed easy enough to operate once plugged in. Hit the menu button a few times, get the the screen that lets you input electricity costs, click set.. use the up/down buttons to adjust your electricity cost per KwH, click set again to save. Once you set electricity costs you never have to do it again (unless your electricity costs change). Holding the reset button allows you to clear the previous data that was collected on the Kill-A-Watt (except for electricity costs of course!). The menu button allows you to cycle between things like line voltage (voltage at the outlet), volts, amps, current, watts, KwH, total time and electricity costs

First Test -- The Stereo!
I keep many appliances plugged in year-round and figured a good first test would be my JVC Stereo that is usually blinking "12:00" when not in use. A few seconds after plugging the stereo into the Kill-A-Watt, it was happily reporting that I would spend roughly $20/year just to have the clock blinking. Now for the real test -- turning the stereo on and having it play a CD!! Surely this would consume much more energy since it's spinning the CD, displaying track info, playing through the speakers. To my amazement, when playing a CD the yearly costs only went up to around $26/year. Not too shabby, almost makes you want to keep the stereo running full-time knowing that it doesn't consume much more electricity when on than when off.

Second Test -- Desktop Computer
I have had several computers at home running practically 24/7 over the last 5 years.. more for convenience than anything. I'm sure you've all heard someone say something like "Why turn the computer off? It will cost just as much with the spike in energy during boot-up than to just leave it on." Turns out, that desktop computer I was leaving on 24/7 eats up roughly 150 watts when idle.. over a month at $0.09/KwH I'm spending $11.00 to have the computer running for convenience. And the funny thing? There's at least 12 hours of the day where I'm not even around to use it. So there's $5.50/mo that I could have been saving if I would have shut it off during off-peak hours -- that's $66/yr to have a computer running when I'm not even around to use it! Yeah it's not a million dollars, but if you have 2 or 3 desktop computers running 24/7 that could easily be $30-40 of your electricity bill each month.

Third Test -- Laptop
I have a newer Dell Latitude laptop with a 14.1" widescreen display. Yet another device that I use often enough that I just leave it on 24/7. Fortunatley laptops are less power-hungry since obviously their purpose is to be able to run on battery and they are optimized to consume less power than their desktop counterparts. The laptop costs roughly $3/mo to leave on 24/7.. not bad at all! Worth the convenience for the amount that I use it.

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