Even when you put your TV in standby it's still sucking energy. The wall wart that charges your cellphone - yup, that's still using juice when your phone isn't plugged in.
The simple answer is to turn devices off or unplug them from the wall but sometimes that's not as easy as it sounds. For instance, the plugs for my home entertainment system are all down behind the cabinet so getting access to unplug or turn things off can be a little challenging.
Belkin think they've come up with the answer to that problem with their new Conserve power strip.
Their solution is actually quite elegant. You get a larger than normal power strip with 8 or 10 sockets and a large toggle switch that is the remote control.
The remote has a wall mount so you can stick it somewhere obvious and it's simple enough my dogs could use it!
The power strip contains a surge protector and for the larger capacity unit the protection also extends to a coax pass-through for your cable connection.
Both versions have two always-on sockets, the others are switched by the remote. This means that you can keep your DVR and Set-top box or VoIP phone always powered up but only send power to the TV, amplifier etc when you need it.
One cool feature is that using the DIP switches to select the channel the remote/power strip are using you can pair a remote to more than one power strip so you can control equipment on different sides of the room or even in different rooms.
For a home theatre set-up this is really easy to install and use. The spacing on the sockets is a little tight but I was able to consolidate two power squids to a single 10 socket Conserve.
Will this actually save me money? I think it probably will. They claim up to $60 in savings a year so should pay for itself by about September. I searched Live Cashback for my Belkin Conserve and got a great deal - you could get an even quicker return on your investment.
I can think of a couple of features I'd like to see added (that of course would make things a little more complex).
For home theatre setups it would be nice if the power strip was switched in two banks.In my setup I have both audio and video setups in the same cabinet and it would be nice to control the audio and video equipment separately (but I don't need a second power strip for that - especially as they recommend not daisy chaining them). Of course the added complexity is that when we're using the Media Center PC we need to power up the amplifier as well as the TV so I'd need to be able to turn both banks on at once.
The Media Center PC solution is the other scenario where the Conserve could be a bit more functional. With a running PC it's bad form to just pull to plug. They can get a little unreliable if you keep doing that to them. It would be great if the Conserve had a USB connection to report UPS type status information to the PC so when the "off" switch is pressed on the remote then the switch can warn connected PCs that it's about to shut down and then actually complete the shut-down a few minutes later. That would allow the PC to either save its state elegantly and in a controlled fashion or, if you're leaving the PC running but powering down some peripherals, let it disconnect from devices in a timely manner.