Watts up? Pro meter

I have a new toy. It’s called a Watts up?, and it will measure the watts used by anything with a plug, up to about 2200 watts. It will calculate watt hours, as well, which is essential for appliances that cycle on and off. Watt hours are what you and I and the environment pay for. Quite simply, a 1 watt device running for an hour has used 1 watt hour. The electricity meters on houses measure kilowatt hour, or 1,000 watt hours, and that’s what we pay for in our electricity bills. For each kilowatt hour we use, Eskom sends about 1 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

I’ve been playing with my toy for about a week, and I now have a good idea of how much electricity is used by what.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my findings.

•Washing Machine: 214 watt hours for full load. My mother-in-law always believed that clothes fare better in a cold wash, so we have always set our washing machine on cold. (Who am I to argue with my mother-in-law?) The washing machine is rated at 2360 watts, so it might burn out my Watts Up meter if I tested a hot load, but my calculations are that if we washed in warm or hot water, that number would rise by 10 times.

•Philips 29-inch CRT Television. 73 watts on, zero on stand-by. You won’t find a big flat-screen LCD or plasma TV that uses anywhere near that little.

•DSTV Personal Video Recorder PVR: 29 watts. This is worse than it looks. Forget the fact that the PVR tells you it’s “going to sleep,” or “coming out of sleep.” It uses 29 watts all day every day, three-quarters of a kilowatt hour per day, 270 kWh per year. What irritates me is that the designers could have engineered a PVR that powers down the hard drive when it’s not needed, as my laptop does every time I stop using it for several minutes.