Have you heard of a “Negawatt box?” Why would you want one, and what is it?
Historically, utility companies charged you for your electrical use by reading your meter and charging you a flat per unit price. As electrical consumption has increased over the years, utilities adjusted their charges so consumers pay a higher price for electricity used during “peak hours;” those hours when demand is highest. Think 3pm on a hot afternoon when you switch on your air conditioner. The reason for the higher charge is that utility companies pay more for energy during those hours, so the higher rates are passed on.
A negawatt box will monitor your energy use, and can alert you that it is a peak hour, signaling the consumer to turn off the power for a while. Other boxes will actually turn your air conditioner off for you for short periods of time, so it will automatically monitor your energy usage for you, and while still allowing you to keep your home or business comfortably cool, it will cycle on and off – thereby cutting your utility bill.
Another type of negawatt box is one that allows you to measure the actual usage of power for any individual appliance. Do you want to know how much electricity you are using, and how much it is costing to run your dishwasher at 7pm on Monday night? This box can tell you, allowing you to make the conscious choice to delay running the dishwasher until perhaps the middle of the night when there is less electrical demand.
Appliance makers have been making “smart appliances” for several years now. Some smart appliances allow you to schedule when your dishwasher or washing machine will turn on. There are consumers, both businesses and home owners who have reported energy savings and reduced electrical bill savings of 30% a month and more.
So, how do you find these negawatt boxes? Online of course. Type “negawatt box” in your search engine and you’ll find boxes ranging in price from $20 – $2000. Educate yourself on what is available, how to install the device you select (some are amazingly simple), and start saving on your electric bill right away.
If you should decide to install a negawatt box, keep in mind that you really shouldn’t shut off some of your appliances, such as your refrigerator. Many foods must be kept at specified temperatures to retain their freshness, and to inhibit bacteria growth. It doesn’t make sense to risk food poisoning in order to save a few dollars each month so be careful with how you choose to save.
If you feel that you are not able to install a device for yourself, there are electricians who can help you, for a fee of course, but at least you’ll know it’s properly installed.
You should be aware that significant energy savings take time to achieve. You have to learn how to re-schedule some of what you do to actually save money, unless you have one of the boxes that shuts your appliances on and off for you. But over time, most consumers do actually save significant amounts of money – which is good for your budget, and good for the planet at the same time.
Resources: Negawatt box reduces power consumption