Power meters are a handy educational tool for consumers. By monitoring your energy consumption you can use these devices to your advantage. You’ll discover the power hungry appliances in your home, those that are left on unnecessarily and inefficient habits, and can then take appropriate action to lower your electricity prices and carbon emissions.
Power meters allow you to:
• Measure energy use.
• Calculate the hourly, quarterly and/or annual running costs of household appliances.
• Some allow you to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions produced by using different appliances.
CHOICE put 11 power meters to the test ranging in price from $15 to $395. Each power meter was tested to see how accurately it records high power usage and very low power usage and was compared to CHOICE’S calibrated power meter. Power meters are generally easy to use – you simply plug your appliance into the meter (which needs to be plugged into the power point) and clear readings are given to you on a LCD screen. You don’t need to spend top dollar, most of the cheaper models will do the job.
For more advice on reducing your household energy consumption and reducing your carbon footprint see CHOICE''s Green home.
Taking control of rising energy bills
Rising energy prices are affecting us all. New appliances are manufactured to be more efficient than ever, but we’re still using more electricity. Installing air conditioners, owning multiple TVs, running a second fridge and operating multiple appliances simultaneously all add up to higher consumption - and higher bills.
Even standby power consumption contributes significantly - it’s estimated standby power in a typical home accounts for more than 10% of Australia’s household electricity usage and costs consumers more than $950 million a year. Recently, however, there has been a drop in standby power used in Australian homes. Despite the number of appliances per household rising from 57 in 2005 to 65 in 2010 (this excludes lighting) the total average power drawn by appliances in standby has dropped by 15%. And the number of appliances left unplugged has more than doubled since 2000, suggesting consumers are taking action to reduce their energy costs.
For more information about power and energy see CHOICE Saving energy.
How we test
Performance Our tester, James Thomson, hooked up each meter to a range of appliances measuring high power accuracy and very low power accuracy. He compared the readings from each unit to CHOICE’s calibrated power meter, and compared the results for kilowatt-hour measurements to measure how accurately the power meters take power usage readings.
Ease of use James takes into consideration screen display, values displayed, installing, setting prices and starting accumulation and instructions.
Energy cost meter PC222
Conserve insight energy use monitor F7C005au
Power Mate PM15A
Power Mate Lite PML10A
Ezaudit power usage meter 10A
3 Way Wireless Power Meter WPM03
Mains Power Meter MPM01
Esocket Energy Monitoring Socket KAS01-01
Wireless Energy Monitor MS6116
Multifunction Energy Meter MS6115
Plug-in Power Meter