Energy Monitors Available For Check-Out

The lamp that’s providing light for you as you read the new Jonathan Franzen novel you scored at the local library despite the mile-long waiting list? If you live in Oregon, that same local library can probably help you determine exactly how much energy the bulb is really burning. That’s because more than 100 Oregon branch libraries in all corners of the state—from big-city Portland to tiny Weston—now carry Kill A Watt energy monitors that can be borrowed for home use.

Kill A Watts are simple: plug an electricity gobbler into the device, plug the device into the wall and get a reading on power use in watts. “Using these energy monitors can be eye opening and is a great way to learn where household energy costs can be trimmed,” said Marshall Johnson, residential sector manager for Energy Trust, the nonprofit that made the Kill A Watts available to the libraries.

image via EarthTechling

Kill A Watts can be especially illuminating when adding up the energy draw of home electronics that are turned off. Yes, off. Lawrence Berkeley Labratory estimates that nearly 10 percent of home energy use goes to the vast number of products in standby mode, and recommends switchable power strips to switch devices truly off.

Energy Trust said in a press release that the devices are available through 54 Oregon library systems, comprising 110 branch locations, in areas served by Portland General Electric and Pacific Power.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.