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What you need to know about ‘smart’ power strips

March 7, 2023 | Laura King-Homan | energy savings, how does that work, tips
smart power strip

You may be diligent about unplugging devices in your home that could consume “phantom energy,” but are they still plugged into a power strip?

If they are, they could still pull energy through the socket, and that impacts your electricity bill. Vampire energy, or standby power, can add 10 percent or more to your monthly bill. There is a variety of power strip options that completely shut off that power supply, even when the electronics are on standby mode or not in use.

What is a “smart” power strip?

Although models vary, each smart power strip has two basic components: outlets and circuitry monitors that control the outlets. Here is an example:

When your electronics such as computer, TV or cable box go into standby mode, their power consumption drops. The circuitry within the power strip will detect this drop and cut power to the outlet serving the device. The remaining outlets on the strip remain functional. Some smart strips have one or two outlets designated as “always on.” Reserve these outlets for alarm systems or other devices that must be constantly powered.

How do they impact my electricity bill?

When used correctly, smart power strips can save energy use in your home. However, think through how your electronics are set up before you choose a smart power strip. Some have motion sensors and some allow you to adjust voltage sensitivity, among other features. Some electronic devices, such as a DVR, need access to power so they can record programs at scheduled times, even if it is not in use.

Are smart power strips the only option?

If you want to avoid figuring out the details of a smart power strip, you can combat vampire energy by completely unplugging electronics and devices when not in use. That definitely cuts off the power supply. However, it is not nearly as convenient as a power strip.

EE_Advanced Power Strips_infographic

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the supervisor, Brand and Communication Operations, at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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