Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Great green gadgets - Terrapass

Over the last few weeks, TerraPass has started selling a handful of products that help to save money and energy around the home and office. Two of my particular favorites are the Smart Strip and the Kill A Watt.

Product 1: Smart Strip
The Smart Strip aims to solve a problem that has become a particular bugbear of mine: electronics sitting on standby and chargers plugged in, keeping warm on your electricity bill. The average home consumes 5-10% of its total energy bill in wasted standby electricity. The International Energy Agency says (pdf) that roughly 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions are caused by standby power alone.

You can attach all the computer peripherals like External monitor, Printer, Modem, Speakers and subwoofer, USB hub

Each one of these accessories has its own power supply, and every one of them has a standby mode. And none of them is necessary unless I’m using the computer.

This is where the Smart Strip helps. The basic idea is that when my laptop is off, everything else is turned off. Completely off. Plug your main appliance into the Smart Strip’s blue control socket. When your main appliance is on, everything else is on. When it’s off, everything else is off. If you have something (a desk lamp?) that needs to stay on independent of the others, you can plug it into a red socket to receive constant power.

The Smart Strip is also a surge protector, and the model we’re currently stocking includes fax and modem protection.

Last night (strictly in the name of science) I left all the peripherals mentioned above on standby instead of turning them completely off. Over 14 hours I wasted 0.82 kWh of electricity. Average this out over the year (with a heady 1.4 kWh per weekend day) and you end up with 361 kWh for the year. At California energy prices that will set you back $54 — and 300lbs CO2. Which means you can buy a Smart Strip and still have $20 left over. Aren’t we nice to you?

Product 2: Kill A Watt
You may be wondering how I measured my energy savings from the Smart Strip. Enter the Kill A Watt. The Kill A Watt is a great gadget for any eco-geek. It doesn’t save you any electricity directly, but it shows you where you can save.

Our office Kill A Watt is in high demand as people try to figure out, for example, whether the coffee machine is more economically left on, keeping warm, or whether it is better to heat it up from cold every time it’s needed (turns out keeping it on during peak coffee demand is most efficient).

The Kill A Watt embodies a theme we talk about a lot at TerraPass: understand your carbon footprint and then take steps to reduce it. The device is a real-life carbon calculator. Use it around the home and office; challenge yourself and your colleagues to reduce your energy costs; figure out which appliance is sucking the most power (it’s the second fridge, I’ll bet).

As well as standard metering functions, the Kill A Watt calculates cumulative energy use, which you can use to quickly work out how much any individual appliance is costing you.