Are you still paying for vampire power, the electricity wasted by your idle gadgets and chargers if you leave them plugged into the wall? I’ve found a new, low-cost solution for making home energy efficiency a little easier: Practecol‘s energy-saving power strips and adapters.

Practecol Simple Switch OutletAdapter

Many would-be environmentalists and penny-pinchers already know about vampire power, but many who do don’t take action to stop the wasted energy. Why? Plugging and unplugging electronics — or even simply turning off a power strip — can seem like a hassle. And even those willing to put up with the hassle often forget to unplug or flip the switch.

Smart strips — power strips that automatically turn off power to unused gadgets — can vanquish vampire power for some, especially people who are forgetful and won’t remember to kill the power otherwise. I tried one of those but found them annoying, mainly because the devices boot up every few hours to see if anything needs power. Turning off power isn’t something I forget to do; I simply don't enjoy always having to reach behind things to pull out plugs and flip switches.

Then Practecol sent over some energy-wise gadgets for review. These adapters and strips are like half-way solutions between manual unplugging and installing a complex power strip. Basically, Practecol’s products let you control when your gadgets get power — but they make that process as easy as pressing a remote.

Take my microwave, for example. I only use the appliance a few times a week, and since I read that the energy used to light up a microwave’s timer all the time ends up being more than the energy used to actually microwave food, I’ve always plugged and unplugged it after each use — a somewhat annoying task, since I had to reach behind the toaster and other gadgets also on my counter. (My kitchen is tiny!)

Now, I’ve installed the Practecol Simple Switch Outlet Adapter (above) — and all I have to do is flip a switch to kill the power to my microwave. No more plugging and unplugging, thanks to this $9.99 device!

messy setup

I made a similar switch for my wireless router, which too was getting plugged in every morning before I started blogging and unplugged when I finished for the night, as well as my TV and VCR — which were plugged into an inconveniently shaped power strip I used to reach around to switch on and off. Above is what the setup used to look like.

Now, I’ve installed a Practecol Remote Control Outlet Adapter for the router. The $14.99 gadget is like the Simple Switch Outlet Adapter, except the switch is on a remote control. The TV and VCR are now plugged into a Practecol Foot Switch 6 Outlet Surge Strip. The $14.99 gadget comes with a convenient foot switch — though I actually just press it with my hand — that makes it easier for me to turn off the power while keeping the entertainment area looking neater, as you can see below.

Practecol Remote Control OutletAdapter and Foot Switch 6 Outlet Surge Strip

Each of those gadgets are said to save about $40 to $84 a year for those who had previously kept an appliance plugged in — though of course actual savings will depend on how much vampire the gadget in question was sucking to begin with and what your power rates are.

Practecol’s energy-smart devices started selling at Target stores last weekend, though they don’t seem to be available in Target’s web store yet. If you pick one up, you’ll notice the company’s attention to eco-detail. The paper used in the packaging is made with 80 percent post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks, and even the plastic parts of the packaging are made partially from recycled plastic.

See also:

Gadgets for men: 6 eco-friendly ideas

Latest technology for the eco-minded

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