Can “smart” power strips help save electricity and money? Absolutely!
by Teri Theuriet | July 25, 2022
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who keeps up with trends and technology. But I totally missed the boat when it comes to smart power strips and how they can save electricity and money. How embarrassing for someone who works for the electric company, right?! So here’s my attempt to share what I’ve learned for those who, like me, didn’t know how these work.
Power strips, multi-plug extenders and surge protectors (remember, not all power strips are surge protectors — that’s another topic for another time!) have been around for decades. But now there are smart or advanced power strips. These have the ability to eliminate “standby power,” also known as “phantom” energy.
A lot of electronics draw power when they’re not actively in use. This is especially true of things like computers and monitors, printers and scanners, cable TV boxes, even small appliances like microwaves and coffee makers — anything with an LED clock. These all contribute to your electricity usage.
In late March, I went to Hawaii Energy’s Marketplace and bought a 7-outlet advanced power strip for my living room for $15. I plugged my TV into the “control” port. Then I plugged our Apple TV box, DVD player (yeah, I still have one!), kids’ Nintendo NES console (still have one of those too!), and external TV speaker into the four green “switched” ports. Now, none of those four things draw any power unless the TV is on. Then I plugged our wi-fi router into the “always on” port because I want that to be on even if the TV is off.
I got a second smart power strip for my makeshift home office (aka dining room table), plugged my laptop into the control port, and put the monitor, printer, lamp and fan into the switched ports.
Then I waited for my April electric bill. Drumroll please… it was $21 less than the previous month. I know it’s not a lot, but that adds up to $252 a year. And all I did was install two smart power strips. True, I can’t say the decrease was solely because of the smart power strips. Yet my May bill also showed a decrease, this time by $34 compared to March. Coincidence? Possibly. But these days, I’ll take any savings I can get. (And use the money at the gas station. Yikes.) Plus, I’ve already made up the cost of the two power strips!
Of course, I could stick with regular power strips and just turn them off to eliminate phantom power. But that would mean I’d have to remember to turn them off and on every time, which isn’t as easy as it sounds since the plugs are behind furniture. Smart power strips make it so easy.
You may not even need to spend any money to get smart power strips if you live in certain zip codes — including McCully, Moanalua, Waianae and Waimanalo on Oahu; Hilo and Captain Cook on Hawaii Island; Haiku and Wailuku on Maui. As part of its Energy Smart 4 Homes program, Hawaii Energy will send technicians to your home to install FREE advanced power strips, LED lightbulbs, and high-efficiency showerheads and aerators. With no out-of-pocket cost, what’ve you got to lose?
Teri Theuriet is manager of internal corporate communications at Hawaiian Electric.