With all the different electronic devices we need today, the use of power strips has become commonplace in our homes and offices. Often we need many of these devices to be powered in one small area. You probably have one behind your entertainment center or under your desk at the office. These power strips are critical for many of us, but one of the downsides to them is the “vampire” or “phantom” energy loss associated with them. Even when our devices and appliances are not being actively used, they are still drawing power and enter a standby mode to be available for instant use when we need them.
Sure, a standard power strip will completely shut off power to these devices when it is turned off. But what about when you need your cable box on but not the DVD player or surround sound? “Smart” thermostats are now available that help save energy by shutting down the power to devices that enter standby mode, while still providing power to those which are in use. The “smart” power strip provides the same basic function, supplying power to multiple devices, but with the ability to shut off power to devices can significantly reduce our energy consumption and energy bills. Since it’s not always practical to unplug your devices or shut down power to all of them at once, “smart” power strips can effectively do so for you.
There are three main types of “smart” power strips:
- Timer-equipped: These power strips have outlets that are controlled by programmable timers. Devices plugged into them can be scheduled to automatically turn off or on at designated times of day or night.
- Occupancy sensing: Occupancy sensing power strips have outlets that are controlled by a motion detector. Devices plugged into them can automatically turn off or on in response to your physical presence, or after a user-defined period of time elapses (anywhere from 30 seconds to 60 minutes).
- Current sensing: These power strips can automatically turn several outlets on or off when they detect that a device enters a low powered mode, is turned off, or is turned on. This is handy when you are charging your cell phone or tablet.
More advanced “smart” power strips are capable of connecting to the internet so that you can control devices remotely. A standard power strip ranges from $5-$20, while a “smart” power strips can cost between $20-$50 depending on your needs. Many local utilities offer discounts and/or rebates for these products so it is worth looking into.
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