Using advanced or “smart” power strips with your electronics can help you save energy and protect your devices from electrical surges if used correctly.
Advanced power strips save energy by preventing unwanted energy use. Devices with memory chips or sleep modes – such as your computer, cable box, gaming system or smart TV – can continue to consume energy when plugged in but not in use.
“It’s not always practical to unplug all of these devices,” said Edith Garcia, Energy Efficiency Program Manager for UniSource Energy Services. “A smart power strip can do this for you and save you energy.”
By plugging multiple devices into one smart power strip, you can turn off all devices and prevent “phantom” energy draw with the flick of the power switch and save up to $200 a year in energy costs.
Here are some tips for choosing and using power strips and surge protectors to help keep you safe and your electronics protected:
- Choose one that meets national safety standards. Not all power strips are the same. Before buying a power strip or surge protector, make sure it’s been tested and certified to meet safety standards by an OSHA-approved Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, such as CSA, NSL, Met Laboratories, ETL/Intertek or UL. “Don’t buy an inferior power strip that hasn’t been safety tested just to save a few dollars,” Garcia said. “A good power strip will cost more, but has safety features to protect you and your devices.”
- Use only grounded electrical outlets. Check to make sure your electrical outlets are properly grounded. If you aren’t sure, have an electrician check and upgrade them, if needed. Power strips plugged into ungrounded outlets may not protect your devices from electrical surges.
- Stay away from water. Water conducts electricity, creating a potential safety hazard. Keep power strips away from any potential water sources, such as aquariums, sinks, pools or wet floors.
- Don’t ‘daisy chain’ cords or strips. Never use an extension cord with your power strip or string them together like Christmas tree lights. Garcia warned, “This can overload your circuit and create a safety hazard.”
- Check before using. Check older power strips to make sure there is no damage to the cord and that it fits snugly into the outlet. Never use a power strip with a damaged cord or that crackles or sparks when plugged in. Replace it immediately.
To learn more about advanced power strips, visit energy.gov.