Gets you out of a green jam?
Accessory of the Week Like many folk, I tend to leave my TV, Sky box and other AV kit in their low-power standby mode when I retire to my boudoir in the evenings.
However, even standby mode can consume a steady trickle of electricity, and now that the blood-sucking leeches [surely 'energy companies' - Ed] are hitting us with double-digit price rises, I find myself thinking that I should turn everything completely off at night in order to keep my bills under control.
The trouble, of course, is that some gadgets need to be left in standby mode overnight, or when you’re away on holiday. You might want your Sky box or DVR to record some programmes, or leave your broadband router running to provide 24/7 internet access.
Now you could just go around plugging and unplugging each device individually in the mornings and evenings, but (a) I can’t be bothered and (b) I’m a geek, so I require a much more hi-tech approach than that.
You can get a clip-on cable management widget for the Conserve
The answer duly arrived in the form of Belkin’s Conserve Switch. This is a somewhat bulky eight-way power adaptor, with a 2m extension cable and built-in surge protection.
So far, so uninteresting. However, six of those power sockets can be turned completely on or off all at once by using the remote control switch that comes with the device, while the last two sockets are left permanently on for devices that require round-the-clock 'leccy.
The remote control is little more than a big On/Off button, and Belkin provides a wall-mount fitting for it as well, so you can simply hit the switch as you leave the room at night and turn off all your non-essential gadgets in one go.
The remote on/off switch comes with a wall mount
The remote has a range of 20m, so you can also keep it in another room if you prefer – although, like a Wi-Fi network, it may be affected by walls and other obstacles.
True, this isn't the most exciting gadget I’ve ever played with, but it’s practical and useful, and can earn its keep by helping you to save money. ®
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mini travel speaker
I wonder ...
... how much standby current _it_ draws to power its wireless receiver?
The Belkin site & spec sheet are strangely silent on the matter...
The manual method
A similar thing can be achieved with by thoughtful cable laying. Have 2 adapters: one for you always-on stuff, the other for everything else. Before retiring to your "boudoir" for the night, switch off the non-essential one at the mains. Works for me.
Probably false economy
When I last measured the standby draw of my kit, most of it came out very low indeed; I think the TV was about 1W. My V+ box burns 20W or something, but that has to stay on standby to record shows. Just for fun, I'd like to know 1) how long it would take for this device to pay for itself in energy savings, and 2) how long it would take for the carbon emissions it saves to cancel out the environmental impact of its manufacture/transport/etc.
Let's assume your PVR/STB is going to stay powered to record stuff, so a typical household might be switching off the TV, an amplifier, and perhaps a console or disc player. My TV is about 1W in standby, Sony amp is about 0.25W, xbox360 is 2W, so call it 4W in total. Let's assume the things are actuall in use for an average of 5 hours per day, so standby for 19 hours/day (generous), or 570/month. Let's call it 13p per kWh. So 0.004kW * 570 hours * 13p = 29.6p per month.
So it's going to take 8.4 years to save you the purchase price. Of course if you have a sucky old energy hog TV, it might be better, but then you might be better off saving up for a new TV. I'm not even going to start trying to work out the carbon footprint of manufacturing the thing, or how long it might take to offset that.
B&Q have been selling a range of similar products (HomeEasy) for years & I'm sure they are not the only one. About £20 gets you 3 remote controlled sockets with a remote control. They can be controlled individually or as a group. Smaller, cheaper, more flexible.
I'm in the USA. Our TV, cable box and bluray player are plugged into the same power strip. We probably use it 6 hours a day. Standby draw is about 36W in total, mostly the cable box. That's constant 27W equivalent. (If I upgraded our old digital cable box to HD the standby would go up.) It's a pretty expensive way of running an EPG. Switching those devices off when not in use reduces our consumption by 3%.
If we left all of our electronics plugged in the draw would be more than 45W. But they wouldn't all be plugged into a single strip. They're either unplugged or switched off when unused.
The irony is that in this review the author states that he wants to keep the DVR running, but it's DVRs that are the biggest vampires in the modern home. It's a computer running 24/7, never going into an effective standby mode because sometimes, just sometimes, it might be needed.