Watts Up with power hogs?

the wattsup power meter

Given this gadget matches my blog namesake, you’d think maybe I invented it. Alas, though I’ve made lots of other inventions, this is not one of them.

For those of you interested in sustainability or renewable energy, your first and best defense against power waste is to look for energy that is being wasted in normal everyday use. You’d be surprised at how many of our modern electronic devices that appear to be “off” are actually wasting power and you don’t even know it. TV’s, radios, game consoles, some computers, and many rechargeable devices waste a huge amount of power.

There’s two places this happens:

1. Instant on devices: TV’s and stereos are especially bad. The convenience of having the device turn on immediately causes it to operate in standby mode, drawing a small amount of power 24/7 Some PC’s also operate this way.

2. Devices with AC plug transformers. Often called “wall-warts” these small transformers convert the 120 volts AC to a safer 6-15 volts DC to power the electronic device. Even if the device is unplugged from the transformer, the transformer continues to waste power!

The Watts Up meter can help you identify and quantify where power is being wasted and how much it is costing you. You’d be surprised.


A simple solution to the problem of home energy waste is a $5 power strip. For example I have a TV set and satellite receiver on my workshop which I use to keep abreast of news while tinkering. If I left these two devices plugged in 24/7, they’d waste about $12/year in electricity. I plugged both of them into an inexpensive power strip, enabling me to separate them from the AC power source. Since I don’t use my workshop every day, the small inconvenience of waiting for the satellite reciever to initialize (about 1 minute) is well worth the money I’ll save over the years.

Chargers are another place this could work. Cell phone chargers, MP3 player chargers, etc can all be placed on a single power strip. When the devices are fully charged or disconnected, simply turn of the power strip to end power draw.

For more info on alternate energy, see the website I designed for the North State Renewable Energy Group at www.nsenergy.org

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