You are here: Home > For Your Home > Efficiency Programs > Monitor Energy Usage with a Kill A Watt Monitor

Monitor Energy Usage with a Kill A Watt Monitor

A Kill A Watt Monitor is a device that measures the electrical usage of small plug-in appliances and other devices. You can use a Kill A Watt Monitor to learn which devices use the most energy, and to find devices that use energy when they are turned off (called “phantom” loads).

Download this information in PDF format

What is a Kill A Watt Monitor?

Photo of Kill A Watt MonitorA Kill A Watt Monitor is a device that measures the electrical usage of small plug-in appliances and other devices.   You can use a Kill A Watt Monitor to learn which devices use the most energy, and to find devices that use energy when they are turned off (called “phantom” loads).

Kill A Watt Monitors are available for check-out from local libraries, or can be purchased at electronics stores. We also have a limited supply of monitors available for check-out from our office.

What You Can Measure

The Kill A Watt Monitor can be used to measure the electrical consumption of 120-volt household electronics up to 1875 watts.  220-volt appliances, such as ovens or clothes dryers, cannot be measured with a Kill A Watt Monitor. 

Here are some items you might measure:

  • Cable or Sattelite Box
  • Television
  • VCR/DVD or Blue-Ray Player
  • Stereo Equipment
  • Gaming System
  • Computer Printer
  • Scanner/Fax
  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Coffee Maker
  • Window A/C Unit
  • Cordless Phone
  • Space Heater (1,875 watt max)
  • Hair Dryer
  • Aquarium
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Fountain Pump

How to Use It

1. Plug In the Kill A Watt, Then Plug In the Device

Plug the Kill a Watt Monitor into an electrical socket, power strip, or extension cord, and then plug the device you want to measure into the Kill a Watt Monitor.  Turn the device on. The voltage will appear on the display. It should read approximately 120V. 

2. For an Instant Reading, Press the “Watt/VA” Button

For an instant reading of the number of watts being used by the device, press the “Watt/VA” Button.  You can take readings on several different devices to compare the energy they draw.  A lamp with a 60-watt standard incandescent light bulb will draw about 60 watts.  A lamp with an equiavelent compact fluorescent light bulb will draw about 15 watts.

3. Turn off the Electrical Device to Check for Phantom Loads

The Kill A Watt can be used to identify phantom loads.  Just turn the electrical device that is plugged in to the Kill A Watt Monitor off and then check the “Watt/VA” reading again to see whether the device draws power when it’s off.  Some common sources of phantom loads are devices with built-in clocks, such as coffee makers, or instant-on capabilities, such as cable TV boxes.  Also, devices with remote control capability or battery chargers draw power continuously. 

4. For a More Accurate Reading, Wait an Hour or More

The Kill A Watt Monitor will continuously measure the power used by a device from the moment the device is plugged in until you unplug it.  To get a good average reading, leave devices plugged in for one hour, then press the “KWH/Hour” button to see the total energy consumed. Items that cycle on and off, such as refrigerators, should be plugged in for several hours or overnight.  To re-set the Kill A Watt Monitor to measure a new device, unplug the Kill A Watt Monitor and and plug it back in.

Local Libraries with Kill A Watt Monitors

Kill A Watt Monitors are available for check out from these local libraries:

St. Helens Public Library
375 South 18th Street
St. Helens, OR
(503) 397-4544
www.sthelens.plinkit.org

Scappoose Public Library District
52469 SE 2nd Street
Scappoose, OR
(503) 543-7123
www.scappooselibrary.org

Columbia City Community Library
205 I Street
Columbia City, OR
(503) 366-8020
www.freewebs.com/cccomlibrary/

City of Rainier Library
106 B Street
Rainier, OR
(503) 556-7301
www.rainierlibrary.plinkit.org

Borrow a Kill A Watt Monitor from Our Office

We also stock a few Kill A Watt Monitors, and a different style of monitor with a longer cord that is useful for measuring the energy use of refrigerators or for customers who might have difficulty bending down to read a Kill A Watt Monitor. 

Columbia River PUD
64001 Columbia River Highway
Deer Island, OR
(503) 366-5470
www.crpud.net