Use Power Strips to Smarten Your Home
Thinking of making your home a bit smarter? Want more control of your energy use?
When it comes to energy-efficiency actions, homeowners have quite a few choices. But what if you can’t afford major home improvements? Or what if you’re a renter? As a Domino energy concierge, I get this kind of question a lot.
The good new is, any of us can take simple actions to save energy and money — and make our homes a little smarter in the process.
Vanquish the vampires
“Smart homes” are quite the buzz these days. And the term can mean a lot of things. I’ll start with a simple action that’s also the smartest thing you can do to save energy in your home. It involves killing off vampire energy loads — the power that your appliances are draining even when you’re not using them.
An easy way to vanquish the vampires is to plug your appliances into smart strips. These power strips won’t stop all energy use, like a traditional power strip would if you turned it off or unplugged it. But they have the benefit of being easier to control, so you’re more likely to turn off devices.
You can choose from several kinds of smart strips. Here are the best of each main type.
belkinRemote-switch power strips
Remote-switch power strips have one or two “always on” plugs, for devices you want to ensure stay on, and usually three times as many “easy off” plugs. You can turn off unused devices by flipping a switch on the strip itself, or sometimes even using a remote. A top-of-the-line remote-switch
travel power strip is the Belkin Conserve Switch? Surge Protector with Remote.
Master-controlled power strips
Like the remote-switch variety, master-controlled power strips have several “always on” plugs for your DVR and other devices you don’t want to cut off power to. They also have a “control plug,” which senses when more energy is being pulled from a device that’s plugged in and turns on — like when you turn on the TV with your remote. A good one is the Smart Strip 4940 LCG3 LCG3M Energy Saving Surge Protector with Autoswitching Technology, 10-Outlet.
WestekTimer power strips
Timer power strips turn on and off based on the time you set them to. This is a great feature if you know you won’t be using devices during certain times, or if you’d like to have devices like lights turn on automatically at certain times. Check out the Westek TE08WHB Indoor 8-Outlet Weekly Digital Power Strip Timer.
emerbtecMasterless power strips
Masterless power strips detect when power is being called for. When a significant amount of power is not being called for, the whole strip powers down, to ensure the vampire load is kept to a minimum. A downside of these strips is that if they detect a large enough drop in energy use, they might cut power to devices you are using. They’re also some of the most expensive power strips on the market. If you’d still like to try them out, the Embertec EmberCeptor AV Series is a good bet.
Smart strip and plugs
WemoSmart strips or plugs are connected to wifi, letting you control your power usage over the phone. Which type is right for you depends on how you’ll use them:
Belkin WeMo Switch: A single outlet controlled independently. This product’s app also includes a timer, a scheduled on option, and an Away Mode, which makes it look like you’re home when you’re not by randomly turning on and off.
i-BRIGHT7x 4ft Smart Surge Protector: 5 outlets controlled together (plus 2 always on) — only for iPhones.
Ubiquiti mPower mFi 3-port Power (EU and US) Wifi: 3 outlets that are separately controlled but located together — iPhone and Android compatible.