8 Top Power-Saving Gadgets
By Nick Simpson
Today, there are more reasons than simple altruism to live in an eco-conscious way. The cost of power has steadily risen over the past several years. Along with the rise in costs has come a rise in our power consumption. Today, nearly every home has multiple computers, numerous television sets, home theatre equipment, many electrical appliances for the kitchen, multiple cell phones and all sorts of devices that consume power.
Yet, there are a number of gadgets out there that can help to reduce your overall power consumption. Some of these require a significant investment, but others are fairly affordable and will more than pay for themselves after a year or two of use.
Here are eight of the top power-saving gadgets on the market today:
1. Energy monitors. Saving power starts by knowing how your power is being consumed. Energy monitors are small devices you can use to identify which appliances and components in your home are using the most energy. These gadgets tap into your home’s circuit breaker, as well as wall plugs that will help display exactly how and where your power’s being used. Many of these devices have a built-in energy saving calculator, too: plug in your electric rates, and they’ll tell you how much money you can save by making certain simple changes.
2. Outlet timers. These gadgets plug into your wall outlet, and you then plug electronics into the device. You set the timer on the device. You can set it for 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours. When the timer goes off, it cuts the power to the device. This is ideal for certain devices that might be potentially hazardous, such as space heaters. They’re relatively inexpensive, too, coming in at around $5 or $10 apiece.
3. Energy conscious USB charging stations. You’ve probably seen the ad campaign where the teenage girl leaves her cell phone plugged into the charger, and is promptly scolded by her environmentally-conscious friend. These gadgets solve that problem. They have a built-in timer that will power your USB device for exactly four and a half hours, and then it will cut the power. They usually have room for up to four devices, which can save you as much as two thirds on the energy cost normally used to charge those devices.
4. Solar USB chargers. There are also a number of USB chargers on the market that don’t use electricity at all; rather they collect and use solar energy to charge your devices. There are other versions of this type of gadget that are meant for laptop batteries, as opposed to handheld portable devices.
5. Ampage regulators. Certain devices such as fans, air conditioning units, game consoles, refrigerators, microwaves, and more tend to demand more ampage than what they actually need. These gadgets use something called a “harmonic resistant capacitor” to even out the flow of power to those devices.
6. Radiator bleeders. If you have water-based radiator heat in your home, these devices can help you save money. They regularly release air that builds up in your radiator, leaving only water. If the radiator isn’t regularly bled, your efficiency will drop, requiring a significantly higher amount of energy to get less heat. These automated bleeders do the job on a regular basis. This means more efficient heating and, ultimately, reduced heating costs.
7. Radiator foil. While this one doesn’t use embedded technology in the way that many of the other devices mentioned use, it can still help to reduce your energy costs. Radiator foil is installed between your wall and your radiator, and it helps the heat from the radiator to reflect back into the room rather than being soaked up into the wall.
8. The “Energy Orb.” This gadget is truly one-of-a-kind. It monitors the load of the electrical grid coming into your house, which then reflects the relative cost of power at the time. The device changes color depending on how high the load is; at peak times, it starts flashing red, letting you know it probably isn’t the best time to be using your electronics.
Ultimately, saving power is about understanding how and when you consume power and changing your behavior to limit your consumption. These devices help you be aware of your power usage, and they also help to control it by making sure you have power when you need it, and also making sure that you’re not using power unnecessarily.
Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at Kontron, a leading designer of the ARM module as well as the nebs server. Kontron caters to a number of industries including the energy, military and medical industries.