It’s typically thought that a surge protector is good at saving electronics from the ravages of power surges and lightning strikes that can easily destroy them. But what many people don’t know is that these surge protectors are an effective way of saving money every single month. They can lower energy bills while also lowering the risk faced by home theater systems, computers, and appliances.
Preventing Vampire Power Drain
A buzzword among green energy enthusiasts and activists, “vampire power” is the term applied to energy used by appliances when they are turned off but still plugged in. If you’re television has a fancy LED light on the front of it that lights up, even when the TV is off, you have experienced vampire power drain. If you laptop’s sleep setting allows lights on the keyboard to remain on, you have experienced vampire power drain.
How Surge Protectors Work
So how do surge protectors stop this leakage and help you save money? It’s simple. A new, modern class of surge protectors monitors the current flowing through each outlet of the surge protector’s power strip. It knows the level of current needed to power most modern electrical devices, so it can detect when they’re actively in use. And when it detects that someone is watching TV or actively using the laptop, it does nothing. It simply keeps the power flowing to your devices.
When the level of current passed through the outlet drops, however, the power strip does a little extra work: it determines whether the plugged-in device is still in use. If the current drops to extremely low levels, it determines that you’ve turned the TV off or left the laptop behind. At that point, it cuts off power to the electrical outlet. This means the fancy LED light on your television will not illuminate, but it also means that you will not be paying for that aesthetic nicety while you’re at the grocery store and not watching TV.
The savings add up over time, and can save customers between five and fifteen percent on their energy bills over the course of a year. And these surge protectors are modestly priced, at just about $15 per power strip.
Motion Sensors in Power Strips
If your power strip is on a desk or a table where it can perceive motion in the room, you might be the perfect candidate for a new breed of power strip that uses motion detection to decide when to turn on the electricity. These power strips work best for home entertainment setups or kitchens with many appliances that might succumb to “vampire power drain.”
When you leave a room, the surge protector’s motion detector is on a timer. If you aren’t back for a while — at least ten minutes — it determines you’ve left for good, and it stops supply power to its electrical outlets. That prevents appliances and home theater systems from using their clocks, LED indicator lights, and other non-essential features from running up energy bills when you’re not there to use the appliances anyway.
Vampire energy drain is a real problem, and getting worse: as more technological equipment and appliances include things like digital clocks, timers, and indicator lights, energy bills will only go up. This can be prevented by the smart technologies included in many modern surge protectors, and will result in a monthly savings that is noticeable and enjoyable.