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Savings Guide

How to eliminate standby power

We all know the reasons WHY we need to eliminate standby power – it’s to save money and reduce CO2 because our hi-tech appliances use standby power. We also know the easiest way to eliminate standby power is to switch off our appliances at the the wall. But for most of us this is difficult – either because the power point switch is hard to reach and hidden behind furniture, or because we simply forget.

There are several solutions to this problem available in the market; from the hi-tech to the unbelievably simple. In this article we review the different options and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Remote control energy saving devices

A remote controlled powerboard can be used to replace your existing one (unfortunate if you’ve already purchased a high end powerboard with lots of safety features). Alternatively a remote controlled powerpoint adapter can be used to do the same job. These energy saving devices can be effective in switching off standby power, particularly if you’re already in the habit of using a remote control to turn things off at night.

However these devices come with a number of drawbacks, including:

  • The relatively high price
  • The requirement for batteries
  • The requirement for programming, and potentially reprogramming after a power-out event
  • Potential conflicts of signal frequency (you might accidentally open your neighbour’s garage door)
  • Yet another remote control to misplace
  • Maximum wattage restrictions on some models
  • Their lumpy design which prevents furniture going back to the wall and means they have a tendency to fall out of the powerpoint.

But worst of all (and often unknown to the unsuspecting consumer), is that these hi-tech devices actually use standby power themselves, always waiting for a signal. So the standby power problem isn’t ever 100% solved – it’s merely shifted from the appliance to the gadget itself.

Master/slave energy saving products

In the second category we have master/slave standby switches, where a master device (e.g. your PC or TV) triggers your slave devices (e.g. PC peripherals) to turn off. These energy saving products are usually available in a powerboard format and can work well for a hubs of appliances where ALL the slaves have patterns of use consistent with the master device (e.g. you never use the peripherals independently of the computer).

However, these products also come with a number of drawbacks, including:

  • The relatively high price
  • The requirement for the master device to draw a certain level of current
  • The recommendation from some manufactures that their devices are not suitable for certain appliances (e.g. laser printers)

Again, these devices remain on standby themselves waiting for a signal, but in the case of master/slave products this doesn’t seem to be the biggest complaint. Instead, it appears this standby power ‘solution’ fails to take into account basic human behaviour and usage patterns. Typically, most hubs don’t consist of one master and several completely dependent slaves. Normally there is a master appliance and several peripherals that can be used with or without the master. For instance, do you ever play a CD when you’re not watching TV? Does your wireless modem need to stay on so others can access the internet with their laptop? Do people use the printer independently of the PC?

A sub-category of master/slave products also exist in which the ‘master’ appliance (e.g. your TV) is automatically switched off after a set period of time. These devices seem to be causing quite a bit of user-frustration, with the complaints gaining increasing press coverage (see Standby power controllers are free but ‘flawed’).

Switching off standby power with the EcoSwitch

It’s hardly surprising that devices which are complicated to set-up and use, lead to frustration and thus to non-use.

Just because our individual appliances are complicated and the variety of ways we combine our appliances is also complicated, doesn’t mean we require a complicated solution to the standby power problem.

Thankfully, the EcoSwitch offers a refreshingly simple solution. An EcoSwitch is an extension cord with a switch, and is used between whatever you want to switch off and the powerpoint. When you’ve finished using an appliance (or group of appliances), you simply flick the easy to reach switch. And so that you actually remember to turn things off, the switch glows green to remind you.

The benefits of the EcoSwitch include:

  • The low price (just $19.99 RRP)
  • Reliable, easy and simple
  • No batteries, no remote controls, no electronics
  • Works with your existing powerboard
  • Doesn’t consume standby power itself, waiting for a signal
  • Can be used for either hubs of appliances or a single appliance
  • Doesn’t prevent your furniture from sitting tight against the wall

And the drawbacks of the EcoSwitch? Well, we can think of only one – it’s not a hi-tech solution!

So how do you eliminate standby power easily and thoroughly? It’s a simple problem with a simple solution.

The answer –  buy an EcoSwitch now!
Read more about master/slave devices

Compare standby power saving products