Tech News and Commentary
Jim in Raleigh, North Carolina listens on WPTF and asked: “I am seeing a lot of advertisements that you plug in or install in your electrical circuit, that is supposed to cut your utility bill by 20 percent or more. I need to find out if this is for real, or if it’s just another snake oil ad that social media is putting out.”
Jim, it’s both.
If you’re asking will any device save you 20% on your electric bill by virtue of it being plugged into your meter or anything else, then your answer is no, that’s not real.
There are devices that look a little like what you’re describing that can help you save money, though.
You can buy devices that plug into your appliances and will monitor their energy use so you can tweak how you use them, or that will just kill their power completely to save you money in the slow trickle of electricity that they use while on standby. The most famous of these is probably the Kill-a-watt, but there are many of them out there, including some smart plugs from big names in consumer tech.
There are also devices that plug into the meter like you describe and those will give you a measure of your entire home’s electric use. Again, some of these are smart and will let you see your electric use on a computer or phone.
There was a pilot program in Canada in which a neighborhood was given these whole home meters and their electric bills did drop by an average of almost 7%, but that was a result of being more aware of their own usage patterns, the device itself did nothing to lower the bill on its own.
If you’re interested in devices that can lower your bill, your best bet is to invest in new modern appliances that do the same but use less power doing it, but that’s the appliance itself, not a device that plugs into the house.
Another option, if you’re actively looking to save money on your energy bill, is to contact your power company and see if they have an incentive programs. Our local power company here, Florida Power and Light (or as we often refer to them – Florida Plunder and Loot) has several programs including what they call “Residential On Call.” What they do is install an energy management device on any appliance, like an air conditioner, pool pump or water heater that you choose to enroll. When there is a greater demand on electricity in your area, they can (they say for short periods of time) remotely turn off your appliance to reduce power consumption. They will in turn offer a monthly credit on the bill, even if they don;t have to turn off your device. Of course that credit amounts to only about 10-12 dollars a month.
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