Stand-by power sucks.
Most of us know that if you turn electroinic stuff off at the powerpoint you save around 10% on your electricity bill. But we don't because it's too darn tricky, and a little bit, well, dull.
There are heaps of technologically advanced things to help you. The EcoSwitch (RRP $19.95) is one of them. Five hard-wired GIY reviewers put it to the test and here's what they thought.
If you're keen to snap on up after these reviews check out.
Reviewer 1: John, teenage family, energy efficient tech-nerd but always up for more help.
(Thanks for writing my back-ground to stand-by power bit for me. Spot on with the facts. You still own the review. Lish)
Phantom loads and how to tame them.
Every home has them; it seems that it is very difficult to avoid them – the power suckers that use energy even when you’re not using them. It could be that mobile phone charger, that TV, DVD player or games console. It could be your PC, printer, microwave or even your washing machine and drier.
The only way to know for sure your device is actually “off” when it’s off is to turn it off at the switch. A lot of the time, though, it can be difficult to actually get to the switch to turn off these appliances especially with entertainment units.
Enter the EcoSwitch, the ABC New Inventors People’s Choice award winner, a simple device that “shifts” the switch to a place that makes it easy for you to access it. In fact, if you can’t get the EcoSwitch’s switch to a place where you can access it, it is probably because your entertainment unit is too big! The EcoSwitch enables you to re-locate the power switch over 2 metres from the power outlet.
My issue was access to the switches behind our TV for turning off a Wii and a DVD when not in use. Fortunately for us, this is most of the time – our kids, thankfully, are not addicted to the “console”. I’m a bit of a geek, so I have a great little device called a PowerMate Lite (these are often available for loan from your local library) which allowed me to measure the power used by these when “off”. In this instance, this came to all of 4 watts – not a lot but, at 30c/kWh, this amounts to over $10 per annum of energy used (and greenhouse gases produced) when no one was even using it! If you are on a “Time-Of-Use” Tariff, this may end up being quite a bit more.
This just shows how even a small ‘parasitic’ load can cost you lots of dollars over the course of a year. I switch both of these off using the one EcoSwitch by combining it with a power board though, in this instance, a double adapter would have worked just as well.
Similar stories are told with microwaves, where the ‘off’ power in my case costs over $7 pa, just to tell me the time! ...and how many clocks do you really need in your kitchen? BTW. Your microwave DOESN’T need to know the time in order to cook your food.
There are quite a number of devices out there which allow you to manage your phantom loads. A lot of these are themselves electronic devices which draw a small but non-zero amount of power whether they’re in use or not - AKA a phantom load!
I’m a bit of a purist and like the simplicity and surety of knowing (with the EcoSwitch) that when it’s off, it’s really OFF. The EcoSwitch is a physical switch much like the one at your power outlet. When it’s on, the EcoSwitch adds about 0.3W to light a green light in the switch – this I can live with, as it is a reminder for me and others to switch it off when not in use.
Use an EcoSwitch to get rid of all those “claytons” loads – the power you’re using when you’re not using the device.
Reviewer 2. Patrise, household of two people and hundreds of electronic appliances.
I haven't been too enamored with the Eco-switch. It was very difficult to locate a power point where I could disconnect all things plugged in for any length of time. Phones, doorbells, clock radios and broadband networks need to be on all the time or my family will think aliens have kidnapped me.
The sewing room seemed to be the obvious choice requiring me to dismantle a fabric storage cupboard to plug in the ugly black Eco-switch to the power board with my TV, video, sewing machine, over locker plugged in. Then I had to work out a way to access the switch to turn it off! Not simple as it was behind a tall cupboard. I threaded it through one of the shelves, turned the thing on and there was this BLOODY BIG GREEN LIGHT. Brighter than the other lights put together.
How much extra power does this draw from the grid?
The thing is clunky and ugly ...but I guess it does work. The bright green light does remind me to turn it off when I leave the room at night. Not so good when I am doing lots of sewing and am using the room all day and into the wee small hours. Having that green light on all day and half the night is a worry.
(Lish: The green light draws approx. 0.3 watts of power)
Reviewer 3: Pat, retiree with PV, has difficulty in getting herself motivated to crawl under desks to turn stuff off at the power point.
The EcoSwitch has been a resounding success in our house. We decided to use it with the entertainment system to control the power to the TV, DVD, amp, sound system, and VCR. The Eco Switch has a handy adhesive pad, which enables it to be stuck in a place where the light shows when power is being used. It instantly became a habit to turn the power off when we were not using any equipment and especially when going to bed at night.
The Eco Switch is a small unit which does not look unsightly and I decided to purchase another one to control the power to the computer, printer, modems, router etc., which is where I was going to put it in the first place, until the male of the species nobbled it for himself.
Reviewer 4: Mark
I’ve purchased a range of Eco products over the years, including many makes and models of various power saving power-boards.
On receipt of the EcoSwitch, the first thing that I noticed was the quality and durability of the product. Nothing I’d seen or used before compared to this. It felt strong, industrial strong. Like it really was going to last the test of time and the tests put to it from a demanding household.
I decided to install this switch out a lamp in our dining room. The power point is very hard to get to as it is in a corner, behind the lamp. Using the Eco Switch meant that we could leave the lamp in the corner, but more importantly, mount the power switch on the side of a china cabinet. We even used the included mounting hardware. That meant it was well within reach, but truly out of site for guests. Something we never thought possible.
Some of the advantages that we (as a household) noticed was that:
• All members of the house (kids included) could operate the light safely
• The standby power for the lamp was 100% eliminated
• The lamp was were we wanted it, and the power switch was a meter away, but also exactly where we wanted it.
* None to note after 3 months
We also tested this on a wall mounted TV, were the switch was simply too hard to get to. The switch also performed without fault and did exactly what it should.
In summary, this is a great product. It works exactly as designed.
I would happy recommend this product to anyone. In-fact, I can think of a few family members that may be getting it for their birthday this year.
(Lish: Mark's highlighted the challenge of energy efficiency and how do you know if something is drawing stand-by power. There are a few ways and I explain them here. Standard lamps and lights (unless they have electronics, remote control or clap-on-clap-off technology) draw no stand-by power. When they are switched on, there are on and when they are off, they are off.
That said, if it is a lamp with an energy efficient globe, and you are more tempted to use it rather than more energy inefficient lights such as halogens, that is a good thing.
Your teli on the other hand does use stand-by power and might be a better use for the eco-switch.)