Using advanced power strips to automatically turn off unneeded power offers a simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Today, households contain home entertainment centers and home office areas which are filled with consumer electronics plugged into power strips that stay on even when they are not being used.
You have an easy way to lower your energy consumption by using new advanced power strips that shut off peripheral electronics and prevent phantom power wastage when primary TVs or computers are not being used. They are designed primarily for home entertainment centers and home office areas where there are typically many consumer electronics plugged into a power strip. They work by preventing electronics from drawing power when they are off or not being used.
Advanced power strips have three types of outlets. Some are always on and are best for things such as modems that you want to keep on all the time. A TV or a computer is plugged into a control outlet. When it is turned off, it also turns off all the accessory devices plugged into the controlled outlets, such as printers, speakers, or gaming consoles. When the control device is turned on again, the accessory devices turn on again. Advanced power strips are available with varying numbers of outlets that will shut down a bank of 4-12 peripherals associated with the main device.
Advanced power strips (APS) come in different types depending on your needs and how best to minimize power:
- Timer-equipped APS can be programmed to turn off selected equipment at night and on weekends.
- Occupancy Setting APS detect infrared remote control activity and motion to determine user engagement with an AV system. If no activity or motion is detected for a period of time, these APS power down the equipment plugged into the switched outlets
- Current Sensing APS work in tandem with computer power management features. When your computer goes to sleep after a period of inactivity, a current-sensing APS detects that the computer is in low-power mode and shuts down attached peripherals such as task lights or printers, which turn back on once the computer exits sleep mode.
- Switch to “green” advanced power strips that shut off peripherals when the main computer or power device is switched off.
- Turn off your computer rather than letting it sleep or stay on when you are done working. With an APS, it will turn off it’s peripherals.
- Stop phantom power waste by unplugging chargers when they are not in use
Standby power costs an average U.S. home $100 per year.
Advanced Power supplies range in cost $20 – $150 depending on what they do and the number of plug inputs.
Typical Pay-Back Periods
Inexpensive ($30) advanced power strip, if properly used, can pay for themselves in less than a year.
Turning off the lights frequently or unplugging your electronics may not feel like you are making a difference on the environment directly. However, by wasting less electricity, power plants will generate less, reducing their emissions. Power plants generate the electricity by burning fossil fuels which generate a vast amount of CO2, a greenhouse gas. APS can help lower your carbon footprint and make your home more energy efficient.
Other Benefits or Potential Draw-backs:
- APS are a convenient low cost solution to reduce reducing the amount of active and standby power wasted by home AV and computer systems.
- APS can help reduce the electricity wasted when electronics are idle, without changing habits or how you use devices.
Q: How do APS work? A: APS look like conventional power strips but have a master plug outlet in the strip that controls the other “slave” outlets. When the device plugged into the master power outlet is turned off, it turns off power automatically to the other outlets under it’s control. Most APS have 1–2 outlets that are not controlled by the master outlet.
Q: What if I want some things to stay on, such as my cable box? A: Plug the cable box into an “always on” outlet. If a cable box is turned off, it may take 15–20 minutes to reload it’s data after resetting in some cases.
Q: Why is the TV an important issue with energy savings? A: Many families leave the TV on all day or for long periods of time even though they aren’t watching. It’s a waste of energy to leave these devices on if they are not being looked at or used.
Q: Why are energy efficient power strips better? A: These will save you money and energy without any effort on your part at all. One strip can save you up to $150 over five years.
Q: I hate turning off my main computer because it takes too long to re-boot it. Do you have any suggestions? A: Consider turning it off if you are going to be away from it for longer than 12 hours. If you have it on an advanced power strip then all the peripherals attached to it will be automatically shut down too when you shut it down.
APS Power Savers Resource Links
- The US Department of Energy provides useful information on the types of advanced power strips available and their uses.
- EnergyStar has useful information on office energy-saving tips to help you choose the best power strip for you.
- Advanced power strips may also be purchased at your local hardware store, Home Depot, Staples, etc.