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Cheap home smart meters can save money

Hate the electricity bill surprise at the end of the month? For little cost, a home energy monitor can allow you to see your electricity usage in real-time and real dollars.

A device called The Energy Detector (TED) boasts a two-second reaction time and can tell you what your bill is going to be long before it arrives.

TED and other smart meters designed for residential use can help consumers break down the costs of using electricity for a lamp, air conditioning unit, oven, microwave and numerous other household items. Some smart-metering consumers have reduced energy bills by 20 percent or more with use of the devices. Retail costs start at less than $200.

Various smart meter models can be found at web sites such as powermeterstore.com.

For a more basic energy-saving option, consumers can try a programmable thermostat, such as those featured at homedepot.com. A Honeywell Basic Programmable Thermostat retails for only $20 and allows a consumer to set personal “program periods” — like wake, leave, return, sleep — which will run at the same time every day.

Programmable thermostats can be self-installed. Homedepot.com also offers a step-by-step installation pictorial.

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