RIKLReviewTM - The KILL A WATTTM
I've been remiss. I should have RIKL-Reviewed this gadget many months ago. Everybody needs one. Let me illustrate:
I've been noticing a problem recently. I've been chilly at night, despite my judicious use of a "warming blanket," and I finally realized why. The blanket went defective in such a subtle fashion that I ascribed my night-time lack of warmth to the almost zero-degree (F) temperatures outside. I finally decided that it must be something else after I substituted a different blanket and immediately became my usual toasty self. Of course I intended to return the defective blanket for "repair or replacement." In the process of doing so, I had to call the Sunbeam organization for return instructions, and had speaks with their customer service.
If you've spent any time on this web site, you might well agree that I have a reasonable grasp of knowledge electric, and might well be able to diagnose a defective "warming blanket" as such. When I called to return the blanket under warranty, the woman on the phone would not take my word for it. Before she would issue an RMA, I was told that I must "reset the blanket."
Resetting The Blanket
Here is how you reset a Sunbeam warming blanket:
Presto! The blanket is now reset. Aren't you glad I shared this information? After resetting the blanket, I told the customer service woman that it still wasn't working. She issued an RMA, and the blanket is on its way home to Mississippi. I should see it again in "two to three weeks."
How Did I Know It Wasn't Working?
I lulled you into a sense of security with the Litany of the Reset Ceremony and you didn't catch this: In fact, when I was done, if I didn't have my trusty KILL A WATTTM I would have had to put Ms. Customer Service on hold while I crawled into bed and waited for the warming blanket to not get warm. As you can imagine, this might have taken a while. But with the KILL A WATT I could see that the blanket wasn't drawing power, a sufficient condition for it to immediately not get warm. I told her as much and got my RMA without further argument. Bonus! The KILL A WATT is good for other things, too!
One avowed purpose of the KILL A WATT is to save energy. Of course it won't do it by itself; you must use it to see just how much energy you are wasting. The purple button labeled KWH Hour selects that useful function. It will "integrate" power over a period of time (which is the definition of "energy") and show you how much you are using. A thermostatic electric blanket, for example, although it takes 228W when turned on, requires power intermittently, and after it delivers a full night of warmth you might find that only 1/2kWH has been consumed, worth about a nickel. Compare that to how much it costs to heat the house or even a room for a comparable period!
The KILL A WATT will provide other readings—VA (Volt-Amperes) and Amperes, but they are just different ways of expressing the measurements already discussed. I'd go into more detail, but these gadgets typically cost around $25 on eBay and your time is better spent getting one than reading about it, since you have now seen just how useful it is. I've bought a handful of these for home and for work and so far my only problem is that they come in those nasty plastic bubbles that require a jackhammer to open. Also, the tiny instruction sheet is so thin that it's almost transparent. But they've all worked and continue to work. I also checked their calibration with far more expensive and sophisticated equipment and found them to be as accurate as matters.
Summary: If you use electricity and care about energy waste, you need a KILL A WATT.
I'm waiting to see how the Sunbeam "warming blanket" return goes. I'm unlikely to freeze since I had a spare available. However the defective one was a pleasant and festive blue, and the substitute is some horrible "beige." Fortunately I usually sleep with the lights out, so I think I'll be able to cope until the correct one is returned.
NP: "The Invisible Man" - Marillion (On Pandora, which seems to have increased their Marillion offerings.)