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August 25, 2008

An "easy button" to save energy

Posted: 01:16 PM ET

How many of us leave our computers on when we step away? Do we think about how much energy that is wasting? With one click a European company wants to help lessen our carbon footprint along with saving us money.

The Eco Button is a plug-in USB device. When you take a phone call or step away from your office you can just press the button and your computer goes into an ultra low powered sleep mode that only uses 1.8 watts. This is a bit of an improvement over a traditional sleep mode of 3 to 5 watts. Just press the button again and your computer will instantly start right where it left off. The device shuts down everything except for essential memory.

Software can be downloaded to let you know how much electricity, carbon, and money you are saving by using the device.

The device can be bought currently at and is going for 15 pounds which is about $28.00. Some U.S.-based Best Buy stores were giving these devices away a few weeks ago to Reward Zone members that showed up for an after-hours sale. So it is safe to say that Americans will soon be able to press the button to go green.

Would you use it if you had it on your desk?

Christopher Piatt Associate Producer CNN Science & Tech

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Franko   August 25th, 2008 2:38 pm ET

Finally, on the road to EcoComputing.
Race is on. Which computer is faster per milliwatt ?

Jim L   August 25th, 2008 3:52 pm ET

Assuming the ultra high rate of $0.20 / KWh.

Leaving a computer on for a full year in sleep mode at 5 W is $8.76.
Using ECO-Button to lower the usage to 1.8 W is $3.15 for one year, a savings of $5.61.

At $28, this device pays for itself in 5 years, longer than the computer is owned.

inuk of the north   August 25th, 2008 6:24 pm ET

How 'bout (electricity) is a renewable resource. Don't you have anything more important to invent?

Craig   August 25th, 2008 8:07 pm ET

I would not use this. I have a number of machines that run full-speed 24/7 because they run Folding@Home software as a screen saver. Folding@Home software runs simulations of protein folding (and mis-folding) for researchers. I consider this a higher priority than a few bucks worth of electricity each month.

Paul Sims Wright   August 25th, 2008 8:58 pm ET

Ah, but how many of us (not me) put our computers into sleep mode when we step away from them? (1) It isn't one click, and (2) we don't trust it to come back. If the Ecobutton overcomes both, it will have a major effect on power consumption and pay for itself quickly.

Franko   August 25th, 2008 10:48 pm ET

At 10 cents/kwh, the $28 device breaks even at 280 kilowatts.
Saves 3.0-1.8=1.2 watts. Per year = 8,765 X 1.2 = 10,518 = ~10 kwh

Saved a dollar per year. 28 years plus interest, Newer, is long payback
Forever at ~3.6% interest. I would not lend to myself.
Expected time to loose it, obsoleted, virus hacked ?

Long forgotten, or great great grandchildren will appreciate you ?
Having filed carbon toenails, on your carbon foortprint ?

Chris   August 26th, 2008 2:04 am ET

Electricity is renewable ONLY if you are using renewable sources (wind, solar, etc). Much of the U.S. uses coal or gas for their electrical grid. I'm curious that so many comments focus on the $28 price... to paraphrase a famous saying: When the environment is too destroyed to produce food, you can't eat money.

Gimm E. Abreak   August 26th, 2008 10:14 am ET

This thing saves 2 or 3 watts?? Drive your car one second less today and you've saved more energy. Turn your toaster down half a notch and you've saved more electricity. People who buy this thing are eco-clueless.

John   August 26th, 2008 10:54 am ET

Add into the $$$ consideration

the amount of time lost while Windows restarts itself

a one minute reboot 10 times a day = 20 minutes

figure 30$/hr that wastes 10$/day

potential loss of 2500$/yr in lost productivity

John   August 26th, 2008 10:58 am ET

Lets Start spending Money again to develop fusion power

dan   August 26th, 2008 11:29 am ET

Once again we have proven that humans, more so Americans can not and will not ever be bullied into coming together for something bigger, like the future of a planet that supports human kind, us. The Earth was a better place with out us, and thanks to big brain people like ourselves, it will be again, couple 100,000 years or so it will fine and dandy. Well I am going to turn all my lights on and go to the store and buy some Styrofoam.

inuk of the north   August 26th, 2008 6:23 pm ET

Love the eco-goofs who feel we humans are a virus or cancer on our lovely planet earth. Don't lose sight of the facts:

Planet earth is just a big ball of dirt.

95% of species that ever lived were extinct before we got here.

No whale-dolphin-frog is equal to or more important than a human, except Linda McCartney.

There are enlightened countries that practise lo-energy consumption, you know, like Zimbabwe. No lights there.........probably no Styrofoam either. Get going.

Franko   August 27th, 2008 12:08 am ET

Hitler, Stalin, PolPot were EcoHyperWarriors, reducing human pollution ?

In God's image, we are above nature. If back to part of nature we cannot survive, Every need factory manufactured. No stopping or looking back. Efficient Humans or self-exincted EcoNuts. The direction is forward, don't look back to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Aaron   August 27th, 2008 4:52 pm ET

Or you could save 28 dollars and learn how to use the built in power saver modes of Windows.

You Dissappoint Me   August 29th, 2008 12:59 am ET

"How ’bout this………it (electricity) is a renewable resource. Don’t you have anything more important to invent?"

Are you retarded? Check your facts.

Kellie   August 29th, 2008 4:52 pm ET

Why not just turn off the computer and unplug it? Appliances, even when off or not in use, still often pull power when plugged in. Unplug stuff when you're not using it!

Worried about the time it takes to restart your computer? If you're reformatting even once a year, the start up time shouldn't be so long, and regularly removing the detritus on your hard drive once a year improves proformance and allows you to just use the files and programs you really need.

emily   August 30th, 2008 12:23 am ET

how about this, maybe its not about how much money we save, the idea behind this product could be about reducing our carbon foot print, so in 50 or 60 years people like me, who will still be alive, will be able to live on a safe and clean earth. Ah, but who cares about the future anyways!

Blue Planet   August 30th, 2008 2:27 am ET

This "easy" button is a ridiculous device that is taking advantage of the emotions that arise when the term "eco-friendly" is read, I don't disagree with that. However, none of us is above the Earth, God or no God, we will all perish if we continue to test the soil, waters, and skies with our short-term thinking. From one tragedy on Earth to the next, nothing has appeared from the sky to rescue to us. Let's rescue ourselves.

Franko   August 30th, 2008 2:30 am ET

Start – turnoff – hybernate – all volatile memory swapped out to disk.
Then unplug.

Vampire not draining lifeblood, saved environment, USA, Earth, . .. ...

Boddhi_d   August 30th, 2008 1:52 pm ET

Then there's the issues of the energy costs of manufacturing the device, marketing it, transporting it from factory to customer, and the eventual disposal of the thing.

I'm all for green living, but more stuff =/= less environmental impact.

Kinda like the new trend of canvas bags showing up at grocery stores & Walmarts these days. As though we can't just use some of the old beach totes/back packs that we already have.

I think it makes more sense to hook up electronics to power strip cords & turn the power strip cords off when not using the electronics. That protects the electronics while in use AND stops the steady "drip" of low-level electric activity the rest of the time. Plus, there are a lot of used power strips kicking around these days, so it doesn't have to involve buying more stuff.

practical   August 31st, 2008 10:56 am ET

Has anyone thought that this device itself draws power? I personally just turn off my computer alltogether.

Jason Burroughs   August 31st, 2008 1:29 pm ET

The title is not "saving money" – it's "saving ENERGY". Those people that only look for short-term (our lifetime) hard cost savings are penny wise but pound foolish.

Stop focusing on the pennies and see the big picture!

Franko   August 31st, 2008 2:19 pm ET

Overriding is the concept useful. Useful now, but cannot predict the
effect of combing your hair the other way. Even the effect of millions,
Al Gored, presently insignificant, quicky dissipated.

5 years is long range financial planning. Useful for future generations is:
McDonald's, special formula fries, a museum piece not cryogenic cooled.

Steve Robbins   September 1st, 2008 12:31 am ET

I agree with the other commenters who point out this thing doesn't really save enough energy to be significant. And don't forget the energy needed to manufacture it and eventually recycle it; these environmental costs are often overlooked.

However, the biggest challange in combating global warming may well be changing peoples minds and habits. Will people think about the planet every time they hit the button? If so, then it may well be a very useful device after all. I don't know if I would pay $28 for it, but if I had one I would probably use it.

stan   September 1st, 2008 12:43 am ET

Emily and Jason –

The point isnt only that this thing is a waste of money – the point is that it saves a TRIVIAL amount of energy. It probably consumes more energy to manufacture, market and transport these things than they actually save when used.

To just assume every product that 'saves' energy at the point of use is good is foolhardy and ignorant. would you advocate a plan to protect seals from being clubbed to death for their fur by nuking the artic with atomic bombs thereby making the seals habitat radioactive wastelands where no human could go to hunt for the next 40,000 years?

Of course not.

Nor should you advocate a wasteful product such as this. If you are truely worried about saving the environment take that 30$ and invest in weather stripping for your windows, or some extra insulation for the attic or some other investment that will actually provide realistic results.

Tom   September 1st, 2008 1:38 am ET

This is just somebody trying to make money. A device attached to a computer can't make it use less power via some super-sleep mode. It just can't. All it can do is send a message to the computer. This message could just as well be sent with a keystroke (which my laptop already does). But if they just tried to sell the software that handles the message, it would be pirated, or maybe there's already a free open source program to do this on Windows. So they have to sell some hardware so people will buy it from them and think they're actually getting something.

Sleep modes have sure gone downhill in the last 10 years. It used to be that my (400 MHz) computer would reliably suspend and resume in about two seconds. Now my 2.4GHz dual-core takes 10 or 15 seconds each way, but I don't want to time it right now because when it comes back up it usually has forgotten how to use the network and I have to reboot, wasting both time and energy.

Aaron Bennett   October 5th, 2010 8:27 pm ET

power strips are very useful but they octopus connection is dangerous*':

Bed Guard    October 20th, 2010 8:31 am ET

sometimes power strips can overheat specially if they are poorly designed","

Microwave Cart ·   November 9th, 2010 11:35 pm ET

just buy high quality power strips and do not use power strips that are not UL certified "

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