I am looking to reduce my utility bills. It only makes sense if I know what my current energy usage (natural gas, electricity, etc) is for a given applicance (furnace, water heater, etc) before starting this.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to start separating these things out? Do I need to install in-line meters for each utility?

  • 4
    The vast majority of a furnace's energy use will be on the gas or oil bill, not the electric bill.... Close enough to mostly ignore the latter cost.
    – keshlam
    Jul 24, 2023 at 13:10
  • 2
    Specific product recommendations are usually our of bounds here, but energy-efficiency/home automation product catalogs should have the kinds of devices I've mentioned. ... I should probably turn this into an Answer.
    – keshlam
    Jul 24, 2023 at 13:25
  • 1
    Sealing the ducts will help a bit, but it is your whole house heat lost to the outside that will determine any savings. Even the highest efficiently furnace in a leaky poorly insulated house will cost much more money than it should.
    – crip659
    Jul 24, 2023 at 13:37
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    Many utilities will conduct a home energy audit for free - I would start there.
    – LShaver
    Jul 24, 2023 at 13:48
  • 1
    Also, you're assuming that high utility bills = high energy usage. I'd spend some time understanding your bill to confirm. Where I live, fixed utility costs are the highest component in some cases, and there's nothing you can do about that (except maybe calling your elected officials).
    – LShaver
    Jul 24, 2023 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Well, this is pretty straight forward.

For electric appliances you have two options: use a clamp on amp meter at the appliance when it is in operation. EG: for a dryer clamp on (to the power cable/cord)the amp meter and use appliance at different settings so you know what low/hi settings use. Using a device with logging would be helpful but probably too expensive (assuming you don't already have one). You can purchase meters pretty inexpensively. Or alternatively you can estimate by doing the math. The applaince will list maximum amp usage on the tag or in manuals/online. Just take the KW/hr rating and you can estimate maximum draw and therefore cost by applying your utilities charge per kwh.

For gas appliances you can do this one of two ways... for the best accuracy you could install an inline meter, but these will run nearly $100, and you have to install then uninstall.

Id recommend using a calculator/estimator such as this one: https://www.peoplesgasdelivery.com/savings/gas-calculator

Ask any further questions I'll do the best I can.

EDIT: as #George Anderson correctly points out, you must be on one leg. I made assumptions I should not. You can either open the distribution panel, or you can open the panel in the dryer. I would recommend at the appliance as you are dealing with less opportunity for error.

In either case you are working on energized wiring and need to be comfortable doing so. YOU COULD DIE OR BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE

Having no idea what your skill level is you need to be aware this is power which can indeed cause serious injury or death. USE CAUTION. If you are either A: inexperienced, or B: uncomfortable, have someone who is both of those things help you.

  • 3
    If you use an "amp clamp" meter, for it to work properly it needs to be clamped over just one leg of a circuit, can't do that on a dryer cord. Going into the main panel would give access to a single leg, but the OP needs to be CAREFUL and OK with working in a live panel. Jul 24, 2023 at 14:39
  • 1
    You're correct sir. Edited the answer to ensure it is clear, the danger. I need to be sure I don't make any assumptions about someone's knowledge/skills and omit relevant warnings. Thanks.
    – STS1SS
    Jul 24, 2023 at 16:55
  • @STS1SS Great answer, thank you! Why would I need to uninstall the gas meter?
    – Camron B
    Jul 25, 2023 at 1:41

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