Believe it or not, there was once a time when people had just one TV in their home—no gaming consoles or set‐top boxes—and a computer was strictly a thing for the workplace.
These days, though, most U.S. homes have a handful of TVs and computers, all connected to peripheral devices like gaming equipment, streaming devices, DVD players, monitors and printers.
While all these cool electronics are helpful and entertaining, they come at a cost. About 12% of household electricity is now used by TVs, entertainment and home office, or computing devices. A big chunk of that energy is consumed when the electronics aren’t even being used!
The problem is that so few of us fully turn off our devices when we’re not using them, so they continue to draw load (i.e. use electricity) even when they’re in standby mode.
Until recently, the only way to cut out standby loads was to physically unplug the devices, which most people rarely do. Now, though, we can solve the problem easily by using an advanced power strip (APS).
An APS looks just like a traditional power strip—a block of electrical sockets used for plugging multiple electronic devices into a wall outlet. But unlike a traditional strip, an APS intelligently cuts power to connected devices whenever you’re not using them, eliminating standby load losses without having to unplug the equipment.
So by replacing your standard power strip with an APS, you can significantly and effortlessly conserve energy and save money on your home electric bills.
A quick online search or visit to an electronics retail store will tell you there are many different types of APS out there. How do you know which is right for you?
Which APS is best for my home office?
Although a lot depends on how your equipment is configured, an APS in your home office
could save about 31 kWh each year, so it’s worth considering.
For home office contexts, a master‐controlled APS is a great option—with the computer as the primary device, and peripherals like a printer, desk lamps and phone chargers plugged into the switched outlets. When you finish at the computer and power it down, everything else disconnects too, saving you energy and money.
If you often walk away from the computer without turning it off, an activity monitor APS might be a better option. When it senses you’ve stopped engaging with the computer, it turns it off for you and de‐energizes all the peripherals.
If you regularly turn off devices yourself, a masterless APS that de‐energizes the whole strip could work for you. If you keep pretty regular office hours, a timer power strip might be ideal.
Which APS is best for my home entertainment system?
For home entertainment and gaming systems, the best APS is often a master‐controlled power strip. On these strips, the TV or gaming monitor is the primary device, so once the TV is turned off, the APS will power down the rest.
If you regularly forget to turn off the TV, an activity monitor power strip could be a better option. Its sensors can detect a lack of movement and after a certain period of time (which you can set) it turns off the TV, simultaneously de‐energizing the peripherals (console, speakers, etc.) plugged into the switched outlets.
On the other hand, if you prefer more control, you could opt for a remote switch APS, which is powered down using a single remote control switch. masterless APS is another option to consider for your home entertainment system.
A timer APS is probably the least useful in a residential setting, unless your device use follows regular, repeated patterns on a daily or weekly basis.
For an average household, one study calculated energy savings using a master‐ controlled APS with home entertainment equipment to be 75 kWh/year. That figure can vary, depending on the household’s configuration of devices and usage patterns.
Savings can be higher for people using gaming systems like the Xbox and PlayStation®, which tend to have high energy use even in idle or sleep mode so they can respond to voice-control requests. Households with these systems can save up to 122 kWh/year using a master‐controlled APS.
An APS allows you to save energy costs safely and almost effortlessly.