Does It Work: Kill a Watt - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Does it Work?

Does It Work: Kill a Watt

(KFVS) - The P3 4400 Kill a Watt promises to help you spot the "power hogs" in your home and then decide whether to toss the old appliance, or turn it off more when it's not in use.

In turn, that should cut down on your power bill, but does it work? We head to the home of Dale Humphries.

"There are a lot of buttons here," Dale noted.

Hopefully, one of these buttons is the "money button" - so to speak - to help Dale and all of us save on our electric bills. Just plug any appliance into the Kill a Watt device, push the appropriate button, and read what kind of power it's pulling.

Then, you make a decision whether to replace the item or turn it off more based on how efficient it might be. Sounds easy enough, but that's before we opened the instructions.

"So, if I had an electrician beside me this would be helpful," Dale laughed.

It's good electrician Chris Clubb of C&J Electric joined us. The Kill a Watt manual isn't written in laymen's terms, so Chris tells us what to do.

"On this toaster, turn it over," Clubb explained. "Look for what we call a 'name plate' reading. It tells you how much volts, watts, etc. this appliance should pull when in use. It says here this toaster should be 1800 watts."

Therefore, when we plug the toaster in, our reading should be 1800 watts or less. Otherwise, this toaster is toast.

Now we're on the hunt for more of these nameplate readings to compare how much power the appliances should be pulling.

"So, your coffee maker is pulling 7.4 amps, and the rating was 7.5 so, that's good," Clubb said.

What about the big ticket items that are the big energy suckers? Dale's computer is the most telling of all: "130 watts, even when it's not being used," Club noted.

That's incentive enough for Dale to start turning the computer fully off in between her internet sessions. Our electrician here lets us in on another tip: He makes his own children always turn off the printer when they're finished using it.

"You have that little on/off button on that printer that'll draw power," he said. "It's a little amount, but that adds up when kept on 365 days  a year."

So will dale change some habits?

"I think I would unplug a few more things, but it might be a good idea when you're going to be gone all day, I could turn more off then," Dale said. "I do think this has helped me learn where I can save money by turning things off."

But, we wonder: Do we need a device like this to simply change our habits?

"I did learn a lot from Chris, rather than the Kill a Watt," Dale said. "However, the more items we tested, the more I really see where you can save money. You can also use it to identify if it's truly time to get a new appliance, especially if it's a power-sucker based on these readings. Still, this is something you likely won't use that often, so you have to keep that in mind."

The electrician says to get the true benefits of this product, you'll want to leave an item plugged in for a length of time to better identify just how much electricity it's using.  Then, if you want to get even more technical, you could calculate what your utility charges per kilowatt hour and multiply that by the reading the Kill a Watt shows.

Conscientious homeowners might really like this device, even though it's not the most user-friendly product we've ever tested.

The $25 P3 4400 Kill a Watt powers up a B-minus on this Does it Work test. You can buy it online at a variety of sources, such as www.sears.com and www.radioshack.com.

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