Practical Savings: Master Controlled Outlet Strips

They’re up 24 hours a day feeding. They’re lurking all over your house. They’re driving up your electric bill even while you’re not using them: Zombie electronics!

Around our house we have a pretty typical setup. We have a couple entertainment areas where we have a TV with some additional electronics huddled ‘round. A TV with a Wii U and an amplified antenna clustered together in the family room. A nice flat screen setup in our rec room with a game console, Blu-Ray Player, and a Boxee Box. An office with laptop, monitor, wireless router, cable modem, printer and more.

It’s always bugged me that these days electronics aren’t really off when you turn them off. Most advanced electronics actually have a sleep or standby mode where they drain energy so that they can come back up faster for you when you return. Many people refer to this as “vampire power”, but I prefer zombie.

I had always heard the tips to set them all up on a power strip and flip that master switch when you’re done, or plug it into a switch controlled outlet and flip the switch when you leave. That will help your electric bill, but it requires you to think about it every time you get up – and that’s not an easy habit to get into (nor one your wife will be very happy about).

The solution? Master controlled outlet strips! These suckers are not your standard power strips. They have a special setup where one outlet (the “master”) controls a series of other outlets (“the master-controlled”). Typically, they’ll also have one or two “constant” or always-on outlets. The idea here is that in a typical home theater setup you don’t need 24/7 power flowing to your Blu-Ray, Xbox, speakers, amplifiers, etc. You only need power to those when you’re actually watching TV. So you plug your TV into the “master” outlet and anything you’d only use with the TV into the “controlled” outlets. Now when you turn your TV on, they get juice. When you turn the TV off they won’t. No more constant power drain! And for the other items you actually do need 24/7 power to (like a DVR), you put those suckers on the constant/always on outlets and it acts like any other power strip would.

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