Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alternative Energy: First, Find out What You Use Part 1

This morning, I was doing research on the web about how to "get off the grid" or how to work towards, not only using alternative energy, but how to sell some of my own energy back to the utility company (making my usage meter move in reverse)!   To me, this is an awesome concept because it wasn't possible several years ago.  Anyhow, I don't know much at all about electricity (just ask my wife about the time I installed a light and virtually shut down all the electricity in our house because of my wiring), but I can follow common sense thinking (most of the time). 
Before pursuing solar or wind alternatives,  it is first necessary to figure out how much power your house is using and, in turn, figure out what each appliance uses.  It never crossed my mind to do this and I certainly wasn't excited about the prices of the meters you can buy for this, like the $249.99 Cent-O-Meter at  Granted, it does some pretty cool stuff like giving you over-usage alerts and allows you to set your own perameters, but I would rather save my money for the solar panels.  There's also a $25 Killl A Watt product I'm thinking about purchasing:, but the purpose of this blog is to demonstrate the most cost efficient ways to improve living standards without getting nickel-and-dimed to death. 
So, the FREE way to do this is to plug in each appliance, go outside, look at your meter and see exactly what is getting used.  A pretty good online tool for this is the "Electric Meter Calculator" in the middle of the page of  This might take me a while, so I will go through this exercise and report back with my findings in Part 2. 

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