The Power of the Strip

Power Strip

By: Brittney Gordon

Ever since I got married people continually ask me, “How’s married life?” Lucky for me, the answer is always a quick and easy “great!” But, there are some things that I am still getting used to—and my husband’s use of energy is one of them.

In the short time that I have been with the EPA, I have become a bit of an energy-saving fanatic. I can’t help it—I spend my days educating people about this very topic, and something would be very wrong with me if the messages did not seep into my own brain. But my husband does not work for ENERGY STAR, and is not as educated on the issue of climate change. Therefore I have found myself becoming a bit of a nag. Every time he leaves on a light or the computer I am right behind him, flipping the switch with a stern reminder about wasting energy.

His “man room” is my biggest pet peeve. In it he has a TV, a cable box, a personal computer, a laptop, a printer, two lamps, and more than one gaming system. What irks me the most is that many of these items are plugged into a power strip—a power strip that is NEVER shut off. Every time I see the telltale indicator lights on these products glowing in the dark, it reminds me that they are still using power.

What my husband did not get was that using a power strip as a central turn off is a great way to save energy. Even when turned off, electronics often use a small amount of electricity. U.S. households spent about $100 per year to power devices while not in use, roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs. Using a power strip for your electronic equipment allows you to completely disconnect the power supply from the power source, eliminating standby power consumption. This is an easy way to protect the climate by saving energy.

I totally understand that there are some electronic devices that you may not want to unplug on a regular basis. For example, cable set top boxes and wireless routers may take a few minutes to reset, which is frustrating for some people. But almost any other non-networked device can be plugged into a power strip that is turned off when not in use. AV equipment and DVD players are a couple of examples. Now as more and more devices are brought into the “networked” world this may become harder to do, but power strip manufacturers are working on solutions. For your other electronic devices, like your computers and monitors, setting them to automatically switch to sleep mode is your next best option. You can find quick and easy instructions for activating the power management features for these items on ENERGY STAR’s website.

This weekend I plan to reconfigure my husband’s use of power strips in order to be able to shut down all of his non-networked devices while they’re not in use. As long as I do not shake things up too much, I think he will concede. Wish me luck.

Brittney Gordon is a communications team member for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. She has been happily married for 7 months.

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