Xcel Energy launched the program in 2010 in several states. To date, the meters have been checked out more than 13,000 times in 61 participating libraries in Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, Wisconsin and New Mexico.
In Amarillo, two meters are available for checkout at each library location. Checkout time for the meters is two weeks, and they are not eligible to be renewed.
The devices work on any standard 120-volt electric appliance. One end plugs into the wall and the other into the appliance. They record electrical usage in watts, capture surge readings, and display the cost of energy use in dollars. The meters can also be plugged into home computers to graph energy use and determine what changes can be made to save the most energy.
Some of the biggest energy-wasters are plugged-in appliances and power strips that are not in use, but continue to consume energy. Other culprits that can be identified with Power Check meters are older refrigerators that are not as energy efficient as newer models.
Americans’ use of energy at home has grown 19 times since 1949, according to the International Energy Agency. Xcel Energy hopes this program will get consumers thinking about whole-home approaches to efficiency through home energy audits and other energy efficiency programs.