a black electric power strip with a hand plugging in a white plug

With how much technology we use today, you definitely can’t live without power strips. However, you wonder how much energy your average power strip requires and whether switching to a smart power strip is worthwhile. 

So, how much energy can you save?

If you’re new to smart power strips and still mulling over your options, this guide will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll talk about what makes intelligent power strips different from the norm, how much energy you can save, and how many smart power strips you need in your home. 

How Much Energy Does a Smart Power Strip Save? 

You might be able to reduce your energy usage on home electronics by as much as 20% by using a smart power strip over traditional power strips. The max amount of energy saved is 48%. 

Now let’s discuss these energy-efficient home appliances and how they function.

What Is a Smart Power Strip?

Everyone is familiar with the traditional standard power strip by now. 

As we touched on in the intro, power strips are an integral part of our lives, as they power our televisions, computers, and smartphones. Well, they power the smartphone chargers, at least.

Switching gears, then, what exactly is a smart power strip?

An intelligent power strip is like your everyday power strip but made to be better for our planet. Since it’s a “smart” device, the power strip recognizes when you’re using electricity versus when you aren’t. 

When your items are in standby mode or off entirely, the power strip also turns those outlets off. This means that the power strip in your living room isn’t sitting all night with its light glowing ominously in the dark, providing power to a television or video game console you’re not using. 

When you shut down your computer for the night in your home office, an intelligent power strip also turns off the outlet, preventing the device from consuming electricity it doesn’t even need. 

How does the intelligent power strip do such a thing, you ask? It’s all due to the internal circuitry, which notices when the power levels of a plugged-in device change and can then direct electricity to only the affected outlet.

Let’s use a home office as an example to show you how unique the technology behind smart power strips truly is. On your power strip, you have your computer, a printer, and your smartphone charger plugged in.

A smart power strip on a desk with several devices plugged in
Courtesy of iMore

The circuitry in an intelligent power strip can tell that your printer is off and your charger is unoccupied, but your computer is on and running. The strip cuts power to the outlet with the printer and the charger but retains the electricity to the outlet where your computer is plugged in.

Later, if your phone charger is in use and your printer is as well, but the computer is asleep, then the circuitry would turn off the computer outlet power but provide power to the charger outlet as well as the printer outlet. 

Does a Smart Power Strip Save Energy? How Much?

It’s clear then that an intelligent power strip is made to reduce inefficient energy usage by its very design. 

After all, according to Energy.gov, standby power from keeping non-smart power strips plugged in and running all the time contributes between five and ten percent of overall residential energy use.

How much energy would you save should you upgrade to intelligent power strips?

Well, at least the five to ten percent from standby energy, but estimates suggest it’s more still. For example, a 2017 industry insights post from AM Conservation cites a study from UL Environment from 2015 that found that energy savings can be as high as 48%.

On the lower end, you’re looking at at least 20% energy savings. 

More so than the benefits to your own pocket is how reducing standby power can help our planet as a whole. Standby power goes by another name, vampire power. That’s because of its vampiric effects on energy.

A report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) notes that vampire power costs homeowners about $200 a year in energy. All that energy you miss out on is enough to generate power for 11 million homes. 

More so, vampire power contributes to carbon emissions, at least one percent of those worldwide emissions but possibly more. Thus, it’s eco-friendly for our entire planet to stop vampiric loads and use a smart power strip. 

In Which Rooms Should You Use a Smart Power Strip?

Wow, you had never realized how much power you were inadvertently using with traditional power strips, nor how much you were contributing to carbon emissions on our planet.

Closeup on a smart power strip dangling in front of a blurred out living room in the background
Courtesy of Nexxt Solutions

You’re ready to begin using intelligent power strips, but which rooms in your home are the best candidates?

An excellent place to start is in the rooms that already use regular power strips. Then, one by one, replace those strips with smart power strips. Already, you’ll be making a world of difference (quite literally, in this case) and begin reaping those savings that we discussed in the last section. 

Make sure you focus on the rooms that use the following items in particular, all of which are very heavy on vampiric power loads.

  • Smartphone charger – when you keep your phone charger plugged into a standard power strip, it uses 0.5 watts of energy.
  • Laptop chargers – a little more offensive still, a plugged-in but unused laptop charger consumes one watt of electricity. 
  • Scanners – is your scanner on only when needed but constantly plugged into a power strip? If so, it’s hogging three watts of power just sitting off. 
  • Printers – another piece of office equipment just as egregious is the printer. A printer will use two watts of power when plugged in but not operating. The type of printer, from laser to inkjet, does not increase or reduce vampiric power load.
  • Fax machines – the days of the fax machine are mostly behind us, but not entirely. If you own a laser fax machine, it’s not a very large power suck, but an inkjet fax machine uses six watts of power when plugged in but turned off.
  • Desktop computer monitors – your monitor, when it’s off at least, isn’t so bad either, using just one watt of power. However, when you keep the monitor on, and it goes inactive, sleep mode requires 12 watts of power.
  • Desktop computer – more and more computers are both monitor and CPU in one, but for those that are separate, the computer component uses 21 watts when in sleep mode. If your CPU is turned off but plugged in, it’s sucking up three watts of power.
  • Video game consoles – you might let your console turn itself off or intentionally leave it in sleep mode so a controller or two can charge. When the console is in sleep mode, it uses 24 watts of power. Turning it off sucks up only one watt.
Closeup on the standby button on a video game console
  • TVs – an Energy Star-certified television barely has a vampiric load, requiring 0.5 watts of power or less in standby mode. By comparison, older TVs need 12 watts.
  • Satellite boxes – if your home has a satellite box, this too contributes to standby power, even when off but still plugged in. The box uses up to 16 watts of power.
  • DVRs – a DVR is still a common piece of tech in homes, but the device uses 37 watts of power when it’s off but plugged in.  

Now, are you ready to stock up on some intelligent power strips?

How Much Does a Smart Power Strip Cost? 

Fortunately, they’re economical, costing anywhere from $10-$20 a pop. Some higher-end smart power strips with more outlets might be priced as high as $40, but you’re unlikely to see them going for that much or more. 

Is a Smart Surge Protector Worth It?

Besides an intelligent power strip, you might also consider a smart surge protector for your home.

An intelligent surge protector can be app-compatible, allowing you to configure which outlets are on versus off throughout the day, even if you’re at the office or thousands of miles away on vacation. 

You might also find USB charging port compatibility in an intelligent surge protector, which is always a nice feature.

Of course, as any surge protector does, the smart variety will continue to protect your most prized electronics from electrical surges. Thus, we think an intelligent surge protector is worthwhile for all those reasons! 

Conclusion 

Smart power strips can save you between 20 and 48% in energy consumption while reducing how much standby or vampire power your home consumes. This power can contribute to carbon emissions, so it’s highly recommended to reduce it wherever possible! 

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