Having a modern digital household can be tough on the power bill. Never mind the essential powered appliances, such as the washing machine, dishwasher, lighting, fridge and stove. You've also got to contend with a TV that seems to spend more of its life on than off, the various home entertainment contraptions that plug into it, at least one computer, and the myriad gadgets and electronics that need to be charged on a daily basis.
GALLERY: Great energy saving gadgets
Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your electricity consumption without packing the family up and moving to a self-sustaining commune.
Standby isn't switched off!
A couple of commonsense tips can go a long way. Turning electronics off at the source whenever you're not using them is the most effective method of saving electricity. This entails not only hitting the off button on each device, but also flicking the off switch on the wall socket.
This is because pressing the power button on most audio-visual devices such as TVs, DVD players, stereos and computers simply puts them into standby mode, which is a low-power mode that continues to use a trickle of electricity. Similarly, even if the device is properly shut down, simply having it connected to a live wall socket can still draw power.
Find the best laptop for you
PC Scout lets you compare laptops
side-by-side and gives you jargon-free recommendations based on your needs. You can also see specifications, high-resolution images and compare prices.
But it isn't always possible to physically switch off every wall socket in the house especially for sockets that are hard to get to because they're hidden behind furniture. This is where the Belkin Conserve Smart Power comes in handy. This unique power board is designed for home entertainment setups and automatically turns off up to five devices whenever you turn the telly off. This can be used in conjunction with DVD or Blu-ray players, games consoles, stereos and PVRs.
Belkin has a couple of other nifty gadgets for saving on electricity as well. The Conserve Socket sits between the wall socket and whatever you plug into it, and automatically shuts the power off if it hasn't been used after 30 minutes, three hours or six hours. For households that habitually leave phones and other gadgets charging overnight, the Conserve Valet can help to minimise power consumption by automatically shutting off power to each device once it's fully charged.
Keeping it PC
Keeping the household computer running 24/7 can be another major power drain. Most computers will automatically go into standby mode after a certain period of inactivity, but as with home entertainment components, it's still drawing power in this mode.
Obviously, shutting the computer down when you're not using it is the best way to save electricity, but what if you're only stepping away from the computer for a few minutes? The Eco Button is designed for just such scenarios. Pressing the Eco Button whenever you step away from the computer for a short break puts the computer into a special energy-saving mode that's more efficient than the standard standby, and the software it comes with will even show you how much power, money and carbon units you've saved by using it.
A handy related gadget is the PC TrickleSaver, which plugs in between an electrical power board and the wall socket. The PC TrickleSaver is smart enough to detect whenever a computer is switched off, and automatically cuts the power to all the other devices that are plugged into the power board, which can include the printer, modem and speakers.
Tech in 2011
Gadgets to look forward to.