Snuff out the standby mode, save money and planet, say inventors


You'll see it all over your house: that little red light on your television, your DVD player, your kitchen stereo, your coffee maker. Every electronic gadget and doodad that has a remote control has the magical standby mode: so off is never off (and with many game consoles, off is a state seldom used). Estimates are that 1% of the world's greenhouse gases are emitted by machines on standby; and 10% of the average consumer's power bill is spent in keeping the machine on just enough so that, when you press "on," on it goes.

Thanks to some brilliant Spanish entrepreneurs, the planet (well, 1% of it) and your electricity bill (well, 10% of it) are saved. An invention by the company Good for You, Good for the Planet is essentially a power strip with a special switch allowing consumers to get their appliances "100% off" and then returned to standby when they're ready to start channel surfing again. The most useful part of this device is that it controls each device individually, making it superior to the best practice today: plugging everything into a single power strip and then turning that off when you're ready to put your technology use to bed.

Other devices compete with the 100% off solution -- and one, simply pulling the plug each time, is free -- but consumers will likely have to come up with some way of snuffing out the standby mode, as many states and countries are considering regulation to end the standby power suck.