Spend $30 to save $250 every year.

**UPDATE** Discounted smart strips available through our friends at Energy Federation Inc.

Today I helped audit a home in Waltham. The family had a large, but not unusually large entertainment center. TV, DVR, DVD player and one or two other gizmos.


In the Boston area each watt costs approx. $2 annually, so 140 watts = $280/year

When everything was turned OFF the system was pulling 140 watts. That is $280 each year — if always off!

If you are buying/receiving electronics for the holidays this year, or if you’ve got some in your house already, do yourself a favor and get a smart strip.

There are many on the market, some are smart, some are wicked smart, and some are just plain old power strips. If you have a DVR, you want to make sure that is, unfortunately, always drawing power so you can record your favorite Seinfeld episodes at 3 am automatically. Smart strips have at least one port for items that need to draw power all the time.

Alternatively, you can plug your DVR directly into the wall and put everything else on a plain jane power strip that costs $10, as long as you remember to flip the switch before you go to bed.

Afraid you’ll forget to flip the switch? Smart strips will turn everything off automatically when you turn off the TV.

In many communities you can borrow a kill-a-watt from the library for free to see how much energy various items around your home are drawing.

So is it worth spending $30 to save $250 each year? You do the math.

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4 Responses to Spend $30 to save $250 every year.

  1. Jeff says:

    Nice post! Wondering what your thoughts are on combining/replacing with appliance timer.

    My TV is a vampire too. In this setup, it’s going to draw power 24/7, even when off. And yet, I personally seldom watch TV between midnight and 6 PM during the week (YMMV). Setting up an appliance timer would cut off power to it during this time, while ensuring it’s ready and waiting for me in the evening (and that it’s capacitor has time to pre-charge). This would reduce my TV’s vampire draw by around 75%.

    Appliance timers can be easily purchased online, and cost from under $10 to a bit over $20 for fancy 7-day types.

  2. Jeremy says:


    Sure, a timer can work, but typically set up their smart strip so that the cable box is always drawing power and therefore always on. If the setup you describe works for you then that’s great, and more energy efficient.

    Another way around this would be to include the cable box on the smart strip (or plain old power strip) and turn it on 15 minutes before you want to watch your show. That is usually enough time to bring the cable back up to speed. (Some systems take longer, some less time.) A good option for this is a smart strip with a remote switch, like a light switch. Walk in the door, turn on the light, hit the switch next to it to turn on the entertainment center, and by the time you take off your shoes you can be watching TV.

    There is also at least one smart strip that uses a timer, but it is more for an office environment (keeps everything on for 11 hours then automatically shuts everything down.)

    There are a whole bunch of smart strips with various features on EFI’s website.



  3. Ted says:

    Was that a CRT TV? Was most of that power just to keep the CRT hot?

    – Ted

  4. Jeremy says:

    I honestly can’t recall whether it was CRT, LCD or plasma, though I think it was LCD. I can, however, say with certainty that the TV was turned off. My understanding is that CRT TVs pull some power when off, to keep the tubes warm, though I don’t know how much.

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