When people talk about saving energy at home, it’s often by replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient CFL bulbs or by making sure to completely turn off devices that use energy even when they’re sleeping. But thanks to a new device, homeowners can save money on monthly bills by regulating the flow of electricity before it even makes its way into the cords that feed their electronic devices.
The modlet, short for “modern outlet,” was created by ThinkEco, a New York City–based company that develops easy-to-use energy efficiency technologies. The unit automatically cuts power to plugged-in devices based on customizable schedules. Once a homeowner’s traditional electric outlets are upgraded with modlets, Web-based software allows users to create schedules to control the availability of electricity at each modlet. The software can turn the power to modlets on, shut it off, track energy savings, download data for further analysis and adjust power schedules from any Web browser or Web-connected mobile device, such as a smartphone or iPad.
The company’s modlets have been available for commercial customers for a while, but were released for residential use for the first time Nov. 7.
"The modlet is a long overdue upgrade to the standard wall socket," said Jun Shimada, CEO of ThinkEco, in a statement. "Think about it, our homes and everything inside have become technologically sophisticated over time, but the wall outlet has remained unchanged for over 80 years. As it is now, it's impossible to tell when energy is invisibly being wasted by plugged-in appliances, and there's no way to automatically curb the wasteful use."
According to ThinkEco, modlets can be installed by homeowners in just minutes. All users have to do is to take the modlet out of the box and plug it into any standard outlet. Once installed, the software can be downloaded and set up in a few steps. In addition to its control features, the software that runs the modlets can recommend ways for homeowners to cut electricity use after monitoring the devices and users’ habits over a two week baseline period. Users can convert the software’s recommendations into actual savings at the click of a button and can incorporate pre-loaded energy-saving templates, such as the “federal holiday plan,” which lets users schedule their devices differently if they’re going to be at home during federal holidays.
The UL-approved two-socket modlets also come with built in surge protection. Any number of modlets can be added to a home network and users can define an unlimited number of schedules.
“ThinkEco Modlet Starts Saving Money for Consumers,” ThinkEco press release, Nov. 7, 2011.