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We're all being exalted to turn something electrical off, such as making sure that TVs really are off, not just on stand-by. Apparently, we could light Slough if we remember, so in the interests of aesthetics, feel free to leave the TV on. (I only pick Slough because I was born there, so no-one can accuse me of slagging-off 'their' home town - although I was tempted by Rotherham).
One 'really good' way of wasting of electricity these days, is to leave the plethora of mains charger/adapter units that come as an adjunct to modern day life all consuming small amounts of current even once the attached appliance is no longer wanted. What with mobile phones and iPods, it's almost as if we all have rechargeable life support systems to ease our passage through the cruel outside world.
A case in point is my PC's LCD monitor - no amount of turning it off at desk level will actually stop it using at least some juice down at the plug point, lurking ominously amongst the asthmatic dust bunnies under my desk.
Allied to my PC alone, I find two printers, a monitor, a scanner, a set of powered speakers, a modem and a wireless router; not one of them capable of being turned off properly at desk level with a proper on/off switch. No, everything has to switch to stand-by these days, unless you yank the mains cords from them.
I bought a mains current meter a while back (Why doesn't that surprise you?), so I KNOW that this lot can consume 90 watts even without the PC running. 90 watts! That's enough to light the little room they're in, which incidentally is being lit by an 11 watt economy bulb. The major culprit is my laser printer, which insists on keeping itself warm in case it's wanted.
Of course, I could turn the whole lot off in one fell swoop just by unplugging the multi-way adapter into which they're all plugged, but it's so easy to forget, and I'm not the only one around here to forget to do it either!
AT LAST, I GET TO MY (PLUG) POINT
This is where the OneClick 'Intellipanel' 6-way ganged adapter comes in.
Not only does it allow for the plugging in of six appliances subject to a total load of 13 amps but it does something rather clever too.
By plugging a 'master appliance' into the marked socket - it's black to avoid any confusion, it will only switch on the other 5 outlets if it detects that the master is in use. Hence, you switch on your PC, for example, and the maximum of five other peripherals get lit up too. Even better, within 5 seconds of turning off your PC, they also get switched off, which is my main (no pun intended) point. The delay allows for things like scanners and ink-jet printers to park themselves in an orderly fashion
I see this working equally well for racked hi-fi systems, where the amplifier is the 'master'. This would ensure that cassette decks and CD players don't just sit on stand-by until needed. It wouldn't be ideal to have your VCR/PVR/Sky+ box plugged into this though as you actually want it to be on stand-by, otherwise it can't record whilst your out.
To further its credentials as a 'must have' for PC users, it can protect a telephone line and thus a modem/PC from lightning strike, and the sockets are mains-surge protected too. OneClick even supply you with the extra bit of phone cable you'll need. As far as I can see, this would work for both dial-up and ADSL modems since it's the line in that's protected.
The electronics that carry out the monitoring are very sensitive, so even the smallest current-demand appliance can be the 'master'.
Anyone in possession of a full set of fingers may have noticed that I've got more than 6 PC-related appliances to plug in. However, I need to leave my modem and router running separately to allow for anyone elsewhere in the house to use the wi-fi access to the internet, so these are subject of another 'non-intelligent (a.k.a. stupid?)' mains adapter.
There's a two-metre mains cord with a moulded plug at the other end, and the adapter has 'keyhole slots' to allow for its being mounted on a wall if need be.
In my case, I probably only forget to switch off my PC and other bits off every other day, or rather night, and then only for 8 hours before the mistake is discovered as the PC is turned on again!
That makes say 180 (days) x 8 hours x 90 watts = 129 kw/hours or 'units'. A unit currently (ouch!) costs me anywhere between 8.65 and 18.67 pence depending on usage. Somewhere around 10p on average is about right since the higher rate applies to a much smaller proportion of my units used.
Thus, there's a potential £13/annum saving.
According to the OneClick website, it takes around a year to recover the cost of the unit, but in my case it would take just over two years at their prices, since I do remember to turn off all my PC bits sometimes.
However, their price of £32.90 including postage and packing can be undercut. I eventually secured mine from Ebay for a total of £22, a not inconsiderable saving bringing my own 'pay-back' period back to about 15 months.
The adapter itself does consume a princely 0.6 watts (yes, that's zero point six) to perform this cleverness, but it would only cost around 50p per annum to save up to 30-odd quid's worth.
The Intellipanel is Energy Saving Trust approved and recommended by PC Pro magazine - "Every home should have one".
Oh yes, and I think it's pretty good too.
The Intellipanel adapter is made by:-
OneClick Technologies Ltd, Herald Way, Pegasus Business Park, Castle Donington. DE74 2TZ
Website - http://www.oneclickpower.co.uk/
It is not recommended for use where the main PC is a laptop - their mains adapters stay working long after turning off the PC so there'd be no switch-off of the other appliances I guess.
Quite apart from saving electricity, which should be enough, switching things off prolongs their life and makes them less likely to burn out, possibly taking your home with them as they do.
If a complete 6-way adapter is not for you, think about the Intelliplug instead. It does more or less the same thing but is built into a single plug adapter which allows for a 'master' device and just two others (of course, one of these could be a typical six-way ganged adapter) It's a tad cheaper too at 16-odd pounds, although a trawl of e-bay reveals some at around £12 including p&p, which brings forward that vital 'pay-back' date quite considerably - even though I'm keen on saving the planet, I'm not out to pay through the nose to do so!
OTHER RELATED GADGETS (FREE FROM BNIBBLES THIS WEEK 30% EXTRA OPINION - FREE!)
Not connected with the Oneclick but hardly worth a whole opinion each come three other useful gadgets for the energy-conscious, the first two of which I own - the third I'd consider if it didn't cost 70 quid!
a) BRENNENSTUHL ELECTRICAL ENERGY METER PM230, now around £35 but I'm sure it cost me less a while back from Maplin. This looks like a plug-in timer, allowing other mains devices to be plugged into it. You can monitor the kilowatt/hours consumed by a single appliance over a set period, say a week. I used this to ascertain how much power my PC peripherals were using even with the PC turned off. Worth it if you want to 'know your enemy'.
b) SAVAPLUG. £20 approx. This merely replaces the plug on most freezers or fridge/freezers. It's guaranteed for 10 years (mine's lasted 8 so far). It works by controlling the power needs of the compressor motor as it cuts in and once running. Electric motors need a really good 'kick' to get them going but not so much once settled down to 'cruise'. If you work in a building where the lights flicker every time the lift starts up, you'll know what I mean. Claims to save around £12/year in electricity might be a trifle over-optimistic - aren't they always? According to my Brennenstuhl meter, it knocks about 15% off my freezer running costs, not the claimed 20%, but even so, that's about £10/year - as it's guaranteed for ten years, what's to lose? It won't work with some freezers with electronic controls and/or digital displays. The device is well worth the money as apart from requiring you to know how to wire a plug, it's a tried-and-tested device that will earn its keep over and over again. Supermarkets' freezer departments must luv 'em.
c) ELECTRISAVE. £70. By fitting this small Australian-designed device to the main input cable to your electricity meter (not dangerous - it just straps to the outside), this wireless device shows you at a glance what your house is costing you and the planet to run at any one moment. Not a saver device in itself but a great way of spotting whether you've left too much switched on as you go out! If only it didn't cost that much! The web-site makes great claims for potential 25% energy savings, but it really depends on how profligate you are in the first place. Even if it did shave a quarter from your lecky bill, it's still quite a big price tag to swallow, or get 'past the management' unless of course you're a sucker for a good gadget. Oh dear - I am and I've currently got a bid in on e-bay for a somewhat cheaper-than-list Electrisave.
Maybe I can feel that full length opinion coming on after all!
There's also a whole host of 'eco-kettles' coming on stream now, but apart from absolving you of the responsibility of only boiling what you need, they don't do anything really clever. They just dispense water by the mug-full from a separate reservoir above the main boiling chamber.
A good site for all kinds of current saving devices, and green energy sources is:-
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