Image credit: Lloyd Alter
A few years ago everyone was talking about vampire power; since then it has fallen off the table as people realized that really, there are bigger issues. So why would anyone shell out forty bucks each for the Modlet, a smart outlet that turns off power to your appliances and equipment? Because there is a lot more to it than just phantom loads. It is about knowing where your power is going.
The Thinkeco Modlet website is long on cute cartoon dancing outlets and short on real information, simply saying that "The modlet eliminates this wasteful energy use by automatically turning off power to your appliances when they are not needed, so you can effortlessly save on your electricity bill."
The brochure they handed out at Greenbuild was a lot more specific. The business-oriented document says:
Plugged in office equipment now makes up 26% of commercial energy use. It's the fastest growing energy load segment and is expected to triple by 2030. These electronic devices are "the great unknowns". Which printer is more efficient than another? How much waste is occurring when employees leave their monitors on when they leave for the night? The coffee maker that keeps the coffee hot for no one who wants coffee, how much waste is happening?
No one knows and it's only getting worse.
The modlet communicates with with your computer so that you can monitor how much electricity is going through every outlet and lets you control it. It has algorithms to suggest savings plans. "ThinkEco claims that it will save 35% to 80% of the energy used by each plugged-in device," with a payback period estimated at 6 months or less. Company President Jun Shimada is quoted in a press release:
"Recouping plug-load waste, though, requires finding savings through dozens and hundreds of small actions, which individually you may never notice. The modlet helps to automatically trim many of the most common sources of plug-load waste. For energy saving actions that can't be automated, the modlet makes the connection for people between what they do and what is shown on the power bill. Just like posting calories in a restaurant doesn't force you to eat better, being able to see the numbers still leads to a natural improvement of behavior."
In a New York pilot project, it is projected that energy savings will amount to $ 65,000 per year. If it saves that much, perhaps every building should be permanently wired with smart outlets. More at ThinkEco.
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