Review: Black & Decker Electricity Monitor

With an economy that’s free-falling harder than an acme anvil, it’s more critical than ever to scrimp and save all your hard earned ducats. A good place to start? Keep a scornful eye on all the electricity your household uses. But how to do it? You could install a complex system of multi-colored Post-It notes, take in a tree hugger to watch the power meter, or get Black & Decker’s Power Monitor.

The Power Monitor is a gizmo designed to sit on your counter top and constantly reminds you of how much juice you’re burning per hour, day, or month. If that’s not enough, it also adds in something actually useful: How much cash you’re blowing on your monthly electric bill.

The included sensor easily attaches to any style electric meter. However, to actually line it up with the meter’s optical port, you’ll need a to have a dead-steady hand & try brushing up on a game of Operation to get into practice. Once it’s (finally) strapped on, punch some info from your current electric bill, and let the monitoring begin staring at the thing.

And we mean staring. The unit gives a constant read of the amount you are spending per kilowatt-hour, as well as your estimated electric bill. With one click, you can also watch how many kilowatts you are using at any given time. It also has a handy temperature gauge if you want to know what the weather is — in or around your electric meter. Ours was placed in the sun, so it always skewed a few degrees too toasty.

Black & Decker claims that “many households” have saved up to 20 percent by using this thing. To make that kind of change to your bill, you’ll need to be diligent. One bonus is that the monitor does allow users to isolate which appliances are chugging the most electrons. But that also requires a lot of switch flipping. If you have that kind of commitment, you probably don’t need a device to give you a pat on the back.

Despite the unit’s cheap price tag, it’s hard to believe that this thing will save anyone the equivalent of its cost. Instead, you’ll probably end up spending the same in AA batteries to keep it running before you actually see that kind of savings.

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