Energy Meters With Refund Checks

energy_audit_150.jpgYour taxes are in. And if you’re expecting a refund, using it to buy an energy meter could be the best investment you make this year.

Just like financial planning, energy conservation is made a whole lot easier when you have a baseline to work from and know what you’re spending.

At a “Town Hall” meeting in March, President Barack Obama once again noted the importance of metering. While he was talking about smart meters, which will be able to help you tap into the new national smart grid we’re all dreaming of, there’s no reason we shouldn’t ask our new administration for metering options in the meantime.

Energy and education experts have said metering provides easy-to-use, practical information that often serves as the impetus for behavior change. By some estimates, meters can result in savings up to 15 percent almost immediately.

If you can plug your air-conditioning unit into a $25 meter and discover within seconds your A/C is eating up unnecessary amounts of energy–and your bank account–you may be inspired to brave a degree or two, or completely unplug.

Other governments, such as the U.K.’s, are already ahead of the curve, providing meters for households. The U.K.’s meter program is part of the country’s goal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 60 percent by 2050.

If you can’t wait for the administration, head to Home Depot, or set up an Internet-based home energy monitoring system. Google’s PowerMeter–an online dashboard to help you gauge energy use and decide where to cut–is expected on the market soon.

Read Green Guide‘s tips for carbon dieting.

Learn more about energy conservation strategies in the March issue of National Geographic magazine.

Test, or meter, your energy-saving smarts.

Read about alternative energy options.

–Tasha Eichenseher

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Tasha Eichenseher is the Environment Producer and Editor for National Geographic Digital Media. She has covered water issues for a wide range of media outlets, including E/The Environment Magazine, Environmental Science & Technology online news, Greenwire, Green Guide, and National Geographic News.