Plug it in, pay less
Unfortunately, most consumer electronics don't spell out how much power they're using. Sure, you can do the dizzying math yourself
, but why not sit back and let an appliance do the work for you? Special power strips provide an easy way of reducing wasted standby power. Those with a simple on/off switch do the trick, but you'll have to remember to bend down and flip the control.
A new generation of accessories, including solar backpacks, lets you charge gadgets on the go.
Among the new generation of digital devices that can help cut down on phantom power use, the Wattstopper Isole power strip comes with a motion sensor that will cut off the power to whatever's plugged into it when you're physically away--ideal for your computer workstation. The Smart Strip Power Strip shuts down connected peripherals when you turn off your PC. You can plug in one appliance at a time to the Kill A Watt, Power Angel, or Watts Up, which spell out how much power is being used. Brand Electronics sells digital meters that display the watts and dollars spent to run an appliance, while U.K. shoppers this fall can snag the unique Wattson for even more details about the power drawn by connected equipment. For a larger investment during a renovation, the GridPoint home-energy storage appliance crunches the numbers to determine how much power your home uses.
On a novel note, you can power your cell phone, iPod, or other small gadgets on the go without plugging into the grid. Of all the solar-powered chargers on the market, we like the petal-shaped design of the iSun the most. The Voltaic backpack contains a built-in charger, as do the thinner Juice Bags. You can take laptop chargers from Sierra Solar systems on the road.