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Hall Library Systems offers a free way to test energy efficiency
The Hall County Library System has this piece of equipment available for check-out that checks the energy efficiency of your home. - photo by Tom Reed

These days, most everyone is interested in making sure they’re running an energy-efficient home.

By now, many people have learned to check around their windows and doors for cracks that allow air to seep into and out of their homes, which leads to wasted money on heating and cooling.

There are other energy saving opportunities around your home, though, and the Hall County Library System wants to help you find them.

The libraries have eight Kill A Watt EZ electricity usage monitors available to loan to system patrons.

"Hall County Library cardholders can check one out for a two-week period. The same as the books," said Jeanne Hozak, Hall County Library assistant director for adult services.

Borrowing the monitors is free, and doing so can keep dollars in your wallet. The unit will assess how energy efficient your appliances are and forecast how much its use will cost per day, week, month and year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, household appliances and other electronics represent nearly 70 percent of all home energy costs, thus tracking how much you’re spending to operate each device can help you effectively control your expenses.

For instance, the department estimates that it costs around $20 each year to operate one television and nearly $40 each year for a dehumidifier.

Using the unit is easy.

You plug it into an outlet in your home, then you plug your appliance into the unit’s socket. The unit also allows users to program in their utility rate, which is how much their electricity provider bills per kilowatt hour.

According to the company, the units can predict cost within 2 percent of accuracy. The longer an appliance is plugged into the unit, the more accurate the cost projection.

"With the cold weather coming on and people trying to find ways to cut back on their utility bills, now is the perfect time to borrow one of the monitors," Hozak said.

For most people, the best defense against wasted energy is by turning an appliance off. While that works in some cases, there are some electronics like TVs and computers that exploit access to electricity, even when they aren’t on. Energy experts call this a "phantom load."

"There are things you plug in and leave plugged in, like a phone charger, that can still drain energy from your system — even when they aren’t charging an item," Hozak said.

"This can be a real eye opener."

To reduce those phantom costs, plug electronics into power-strips that have an off switch to cut the power to the unit.