Accessories Apps Reviews

Belkin’s Energy-Use Gadget Will Change How You Live [Review, Earth Day]

This is how much it costs in electricity to run my 13″ MacBook Pro per year, if it were continually left on: $11.20. My 32-inch flat screen TV? That’s a whopping $100/year, if left on; but when it’s off, it’ll only drain to the tune of about 75 cents per year (similarly, my MBP only drains about $2/year in sleep mode).
How do I know this? I’ve been (lame-pun alert) charging around, giddily testing everything in the house with Belkin’s Conserve Insight, a brilliant, $30 tool that measures the energy use of any gadget or appliance that plugs into a wall outlet  — and the results have been (oh, and again) electrifying enough for me to really change my habits.
The Insight comprises of two components connected by a 5-foot cable: a three-pronged plug combined with its own outlet, and a three-buttoned screen. Plug the Insight into an outlet and the gadget you’re measuring into the Insight’s outlet, and the Insight’s screen will light up with data. There are three basic ways the Insight can interpret energy flow (represented by the three buttons): cost per year (or month), the amount of CO2 released in to the as a result of the electricity consumed feeding your gadget, or actual wattage. Leave it plugged in for about an hour and it’ll average energy use for that particular gadget. The longer it’s left plugged in, the more accurate a picture you’ll get.
The Insight supposedly figures out rough geographic location to determine electricity rates in the area, but we haven’t figured out how it does this (and Belkin hasn’t replied yet with an answer); but it can also be programmed with exact rates.
Every home should have one of these. Its relatively inexpensive price, stupid-easy interface and incredible usefulness make it a no-brainer.
Rating: ★★★★½