Green ProductsHome & Garden

Save LOTS Of Energy (And The Life Of Your Gadgets!) With A Smart Power Strip

Photo of author

By Jeffrey

cost-controller-power-strip.jpgIn the fight to save energy we find ourselves up against a plethora of foes.

Luckily, we also have quite a kick ass arsenal too.

I recently told the tale of my experience speaking to some local 3rd grade elementary classes on Earth Day. One of the ways we talked about kids being able to get involved in living green was to take their parents on a ghost hunt to find sources of phantom power draw in their homes.

But what’s a person to do when you find a mass of energy sucking vampires clustered together behind the entertainment center or under the computer desk?

A smart power strip is better than a wooden stake to those vampires!


Monitor Your Power Usage

CNET’s gadget & tech blog, CRAVE, wrote about the new Cost Controller Power Strip (pictured above).

This smart power strip has an LCD built in that gives a readout in kilowatt hours (kWh) showing the energy being used by the cumulative total of all the devices plugged in.

Now that’s cool!

Crave also noted, “The Cost Controller Power Strip also shows the voltage, line frequency and power factor, so the quality of the power line can be monitored as well.”

Unfortunately, the smart Cost Controller Power Strip retails for $100. In addition, it doesn’t seem to have any power saving features — only the LCD that makes you aware of how much power that DVD player or Xbox are actually using while they’re in standby.

(Oh, and just to let you know, an XBox 360 consumes a whopping 185 watts during gameplay, while the Wii uses a measly 18. Hit up DVICE for more on that.)

As we’ve already talked about before, the Kill-A-Watt is a much more useful (and affordable — less than $15) tool for measuring power draw. So it might be the better weapon for this job.

UPDATE: There’s a new Kill A Watt Surge Protector that appears to be very similar to the Cost Controller Power Strip.


SmartStrip: The Best Weapon Of Choice


As far as smart power strips go, one of the options from the SmartStrip line will likely be most effective AND affordable. They’re available from $20-$30 at Amazon, depending on the model. has an in-depth review of the SmartStrip Power Strip that’s well worth the read.

In short, here is the awesomeness of how the SmartStrip works:

“It has a “Control Outlet” which controls 6 other outlets on the power strip. If you plug a computer into the Control Outlet, and it turns off or goes into sleep mode, the other “switched” outlets on the strip will be turned off. There are also 3 other outlets that are “always on”.


What’s The Real Benefit?

Plug your computer into the control outlet and when you turn your computer off for the night, all of your computer peripherals will turn off as well — except for the 3 devices you have plugged into the “always on” outlets.

It would work the same way for a TV to be plugged into the control outlet, which would turn off the receiver, DVD player, etc when the TV was turned off. Nifty huh?

Special note for laptop users: Check out the tip at to make sure that your laptop functions correctly in the control outlet.

What’s  your favorite weapon in the war against those blood energy sucking electronic vampires?