MN Energy Smart

Wondering How Much That Big Copier is Costing You? Try a Kilowatt Meter

Businesses are usually filled with all sorts of equipment that consume energy from computers, copiers, printers, fans and other specialized gadgets. All told,  office equipment can rise to the top of the list of highest business energy costs, after perhaps lights, heating and cooling.

But to really understand how all of this equipment impacts energy bills, you have to first understand how much energy it’s using.

One potential solution: Using a kilowatt meter.

Kilowatt meters (sometimes referred to as Kill A Watt meters, after the well-known brand) allow businesses and homeowners to get real-time data on how much electricity their appliances and equipment use. It can measure the electricity draw both when the equipment is on and running at full capacity and when it’s turned off and plugged in – also known as “phantom energy.”

Basically, you plug the kilowatt meter into the outlet and plug your equipment into the  meter. The meter displays both in kilowatt hours and in dollars how much energy the equipment uses. You can even ask it to stretch that usage over months or a year to estimate out how much you’re spending long-term. (You need to enter your kilowatt-hour utility rate for accuracy, which may be anywhere from 6-cents to 15-cents.)

Awhile back, Energy Smart tested a medium-sized copy machine in our office using our kilowatt meter. We found that while the machine was turned on, but not making copies, it used about 0.42 kilowatt hours. So if left on 24/7, that machine would cost about $295 a year or $25 a month. By turning it off when offices are closed, we calculated savings of about $225 a year.

The benefit to using a kilowatt meter is helping you and your employees really understand how much energy and money you’re consuming to run all sorts of equipment and keep them plugged in.

You can buy a kilowatt meter for about $25 at hardware stores and home improvement stores. You might be also be able to borrow a kilowatt meter from your local library.

Energy Smart also helps Minnesota businesses measure their office equipment’s energy use and can recommend ways to reduce it. If you’re interested in scheduling a no-cost on-site consultation, contact us at (651) 292-4652 or


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