Certain kinds of vampires might be all the rage these days, but energy vampires — the products in your home that suck energy while not providing any useful function — have definitely fallen out of favor. In your kitchen and throughout the rest of your house, these energy-sucking gadgets and appliances drain electricity even when they’re not in use.

If you think it’s a miniscule amount of energy, think again: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off or in standby mode. Some kinds of standby power, such as remote controls, clock displays, and timers, do provide useful functions, but in other cases, such as plugged-in power adapters, they just waste energy.

Enter the ZERO Charger™ (patent pending) from AT&T, the first of its kind, is an EnergyStar 2.0 Level V efficient charging unit that won’t draw electricity from a power outlet when disconnected from a mobile phone. In stores nationwide this May, the ZERO functions as a normal charger, albeit a very efficient one. When connected to a device, it turns on and begins charging, but it has the added capacity of sensing when a device has been disconnected from it, at which point it automatically cuts the power supply from the wall socket. This is achieved via capacitive touch-sensing technology — the same technology used for touch-screen applications, but modified to “sense” the presence of a device rather than the presence of a human finger to activate. While some competing devices are efficient or come with a manual on/off switch, no other charger is totally "hands off" and boasts zero draw from a power outlet when not in use.

Amanda Ray, a spokesperson for AT&T, explains that “as an out-of-box accessory, the ZERO charger solution will cost the same as existing wall chargers sold in AT&T stores, making it easy for customers to be a small part of a big difference.” As if all this wasn’t enough, the ZERO charger is designed to be interchangeable, enabling customers to use the same charger for future handsets. Over time, this will cut the number of chargers produced, thereby reducing the amount of reusable materials in landfills, including dangerous and toxic e-waste. With all of these cost- and earth-conscious features, it’s no surprise that the AT&T ZERO Charger has been named a finalist in the green solutions category in the CTIA Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards. It's a perfect way to go green and save green, all at the same time.  

See also:

Eco-friendly phones