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Choosing the Right Power Strip

May 16, 2014

The modern home is packed with electronics. From TVs to DVD players and gaming consoles, these gadgets, which are so much a part of our lives, also cost us money in terms of energy consumption. In fact, they can add up to nearly 10% of a home’s monthly electricity bill. One of the reasons for this is that many of these products aren’t actually turned off when not in use; instead, they’re on standby, which means they’re still drawing power. They become what are known as “energy vampires”. An advanced power strip can solve this problem, but choosing the right power strip is key to maximizing energy savings.

Similar to conventional power strips, APS are designed primarily to deal with home entertainment areas and home offices. They prevent electronics from drawing power when not being used. APS come in a variety of types to suit different requirements.

1. Timer Power Strip

  • Automatically turns off outlets based on a pre-set schedule.
  • Look for a digital or dial timer.

2. Activity Monitor Power Strip

  • Scans for movement in the room and turns off outlets if there is none.
  • Look for a motion sensor or infrared eye.

3. Remote Switch Power Strip

  • Can be turned off with a remote switch.
  • Look for a tethered or remote switch.

4. Master Controlled Power Strip

  • When the user turns off the primary device (i.e., TV), the power strip automatically shuts down connected devices (i.e., game console, DVD player, etc.).
  • Look for one outlet labeled as “master”.

5. Masterless Power Strip

  • Will cut power to all outlets where plugged in devices have been turned off, thereby eliminating vampire loads.
  • Shouldn’t have a “master” outlet; may have “automatic switching” or “power detection” label.

In addition to using an APS to control your electronics, look for ENERGY STAR qualified devices when buying. ENERGY STAR qualified devices are designed to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. For a range of energy-saving tips and advice, visit the RESNET Smart Home.