Plugwise wards off vampire energy consumption

U.S. consumers can now buy the Dutch-developed smart plugs, which allow you to schedule complete shutdowns for connected gadgets.

Los Angeles-based company kWh Power has started to sell a series of smart plug products from Dutch company Plugwise that help eliminate standby power leaks.

The product, also called Plugwise, sits between your gadget and the regular electrical outlet. Information from the plug is conveyed wireless to your computer (you have to use the plug in tandem with a USB device as suggested in the photo). You can use the software application that comes with the plug to turn off power to connected devices when they are in standby mode or according to certain schedules.

Plugwise has been selling its smart plug in the Netherlands since 2007, and it reports that the technology can help reduce average plug loads by 50 percent. (Never mind that there is just one plug offered per smart plug, and it is pretty bulk, which my husband would never go for.)

kWh Power has the right to distribute the Plugwise smart plugs to retailers in the California. If you live in another state, you can buy one off the company's Web site, you'll have to pay about $50. kWh Power figures that investment will pay off after between four to eight months.