Green Technology at CES 2009

Well, CES 2009 has come and gone. This was my 10th CES and Kim’s 14th. Wow – that’s a lot of neon to take in in one lifetime.

This year’s CES was a little different, and not just because the economy kept attendance down; this year’s show floor featured a “Greener Gadgets” Tech Zone. In this space were companies from all over exhibiting gadgets and gizmo’s that save kilowatts. I was impressed that the CEA took the initiative to create this space (pretty prime floor space too, right next to LG) but I wish more companies would have exhibited. I forgot to get an exact count, but there were probably only 24 small 10 x 10 booths filled with mostly gadgets that either help power off other gadgets, or small solar panels that helped power PDAs, cell phones, iPods, etc. Where were the bigger companies with their green initiatives and products? Why didn’t they have a presence in this “Green Zone” instead of burying their green wares in their ginormous booths? I certainly don’t blame the CEA as I have no doubt they would have accomodated as many “green” companies as possible. The CEA has an entire green initiative that you can read more about here.

I didn’t walk away fully disappointed, though, as I was able to find very innovative, and brilliantly simple devices for saving kilowatts. My favorites come from TrickleStar

and are part of their TrickleSaver Solutions line of products. First up is the PC TrickleSaver. This small, power supply-sized gadget plugs in between your existing power strip and your computer peripherals. See, many of us have printers, scanners, computer speakers, etc., hooked up to our PCs that are powered on at all times – either that or they are in standby mode. The problem with standby mode is even if the peripheral device appears turned off it’s still sucking juice out of the wall. According to TrickleStar it is estimated that around the world standby power accounts for 12% of residential electricity consumption. In the US alone it is estimated that standby power costs consumers more than $3 billion a year!

TrickleSaver

The TrickleSaver works on a simple master/slave principle by connecting to your PC via a USB cable and using current sensing technology, sensing when your PC is on or off and turns on or off your peripherals accordingly. It doesn’t list on the website whether or not it will turn off your peripherals when the PC goes into sleep mode, but I would assume that’s the point of the USB connection. They have another similar device called the Universal TrickleSaver with no USB connection and works on simple current sensing technology.

The other gadget I really liked was their Desktop Switch. This little button connects via USB in-line between the TrickleSaver and your PC and can automatically shut off all of your peripherals even when the computer is still on. To me this is a must have accessory to the TrickleSaver. I don’t personally like turning off my PC all the time due to long boot up times and the fact that I use it as a shared device on my network for files, pictures, etc. With the Desktop Switch I can choose to turn on my printer and other devices only when I need them. Such simple brilliance.

Perhaps the best thing about the TrickleStar products is the cost. I got quoted a price of $25 for the TrickleSaver. No cost on the Desktop Switch, but I would venture to guess it will be around $15. The even greater thing about this simple device is that you can use it in conjunction with your current power strip. Say you’ve already invested in a nice power strip or UPS with battery back up, surge protection, etc., – you can still use it in conjunction with the TrickleSaver and take advantage of the second “R” (Re-use).

It’s products like the TrickleSaver that are going to get people to adopt sustainable practices in their everyday lives. Make it affordable and idiot proof and people will adopt it. Just think how much electricity in this country would be saved if a product like the TrickleSaver was bundled with each new PC purchase.

Posted by Joe. Follow me on Twitter.

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