January 28, 2008 —
Energy Star estimates that about 40 percent of all electrical usage comes from devices that continue to consume power even when they're turned off. It's an issue that's currently being addressed across the electronics industry as manufacturers scramble to find simple ways to make their products "green." In the meantime, consumers waste money and carbon emissions every day on power that they're not even using.
Computer work stations are among the biggest culprits in the home, and usually the biggest energy thieves at the office. Printers, speakers, modems, external hard drives and monitors all use energy when a computer is turned off, both when we forget to switch them off, and through a passive flow of electricity from the outlet. Stand-by lights are also contributors to the problem.
Thankfully, a product that can eliminate this excess energy usage has finally come to the American market. For more than two years, surge protectors that shut down automatically when a computer is turned off have been available for the European electrical configuration, but not its American counterpart. The Ecostrip is the first American product to provide this service.
Priced at around $29 per unit, the EcoStrip plugs into your computer's USB port and automatically switches off power flow to all devices when the computer is shut down. Even though its price is about double that of most surge protectors, the EcoStrip will easily pay for itself within a year, since many computer configurations waste more than $70 a year when they're out of use.