Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tech Column: Power to the People

by Bill Adler

A little $10 wonder arrived at my home recently.  It's going to save me a lot of money. What came is a simple, electrical timer that turns off an appliance after a preset period of time: 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours. The Belkin Conserve Socket, http://amzn.to/uWVuj4, will be saving me over $100 a year.

We have this wonderful towel warmer in the bathroom. It's great. I love to have a warm towel when I get out of the shower. But it's a simple plug-in device; it lacks an off switch. Sure, I could unplug it after each use -- or maybe not with wet hands. Or I could get a regular timer for it, but I don't always take a shower at the same time of day. Instead, with the Belkin Conserve Socket, all I have to do is press a button and on goes the towel warmer.  Then 30 minutes later the towel warmer is no longer sapping kilowatts.

How many kilowatts was the towel warmer consuming? Well, you can do the math on any device in your home at www.citytrf.net/costs_calculator.htm. Just plug in the wattage of the device (which is printed somewhere on appliance), and the current kilowatt cost on Pepco's website, www.pepco.com/home/choice/dc/compare, and the number of hours a day you run the appliance, and you'll get an answer you may not like. My towel warmer was costing over $100 a year. Now with the Conserve Socket it's costing $3 a year in electricity.

If you have a lamp or something else that only needs to be turned on when somebody's in the room, the SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet, http://amzn.to/rUA6f6, can save you a lot of money. This $12 wonder turns a lamp or appliance on when you enter a room, and when it no longer detects motion after a period of a few minutes or longer (based on your needs), it powers off the appliance.

These devices require no wiring. Just plug them into the wall and plug the appliance into them.

Oh, and these two devices are good for the planet, too.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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