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Entertainment (March 2009)

Ghosts in the Machines
by John R. Quain
Three Words: Unplug, Unplug, Unplug

The dirty little secret about high-tech gadgets is all the power they drain when you’re not even using them. Turn off a printer, for example, and it may still be sucking up to nearly 15 watts of electricity. Even power adapters left in wall outlets drain power. Utility companies call it “phantom load” and according to the DOE, electronic devices that are turned off but not unplugged use electricity totaling $3 billion each year in the U.S.

A smart way to eliminate phantom load in your home is to use smart power strips with home office and home entertainment equipment. The $37 Smart Strip from Bits Limited acts like a standard power bar except that it has an outlet that controls four of the other outlets on bar. When the device plugged into the control outlet, say, a computer or television, is turned off the power is automatically cut to the other outlets where a printer or video game console may be plugged in. The Smart Strip also has two always-on outlets so that you don’t inadvertently shut off a cable modem or Tivo recorder; bitsltd.net.

Related: Greener Standards Better CFLs Gauging Your Power Drain

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