New Year’s resolution: add smart power strips or unplug to save money

Forgotten home devices cost consumers up to $90/year on the energy bill

MADISON, Wis. – December 26, 2019 – New studies conducted by Alliant Energy show that residential electric customers could reduce their overall use by up to 9% by taking a thorough inventory of everything that’s plugged in and selectively shutting down unused, always-on devices.

This could save customers up to $90 per household per year, or nearly one month’s typical electricity bill.

“Customers today lose track of what’s plugged in at home. A fan in the attic, a baby monitor that fell behind the dresser, multiple plugged-in cell phone chargers…these are examples of items our customers found plugged-in that didn’t need to be,” said Jeff Adams, lead customer product manager, Alliant Energy.

“The problem is, if they’re plugged in, they are using electricity, even if they are turned off or in stand-by mode. As a group, these items waste a lot of energy,” said Adams.

The study estimates that up to one-quarter of daily residential energy use powers devices that are always on. Many of them are not in use.

Personalized information helped customers

Alliant Energy is one of the first utilities in the country to test the Sense® home energy monitoring technology in residents’ homes.

The company conducted its research with 100 residential customers who chose to participate in the study and use the Sense monitor in their homes. The Sense monitor attaches to a home’s electrical panel.

The Sense monitor’s advanced technology identifies individual devices so customers can track what’s on and off in the home and how much energy each one uses.

This personalized feedback is delivered directly to a mobile app, which can translate usage into cost. Customers can see in real time where electricity was in use and which changes will save the most money.

By looking at their individual use-patterns, preliminary results show that the 100 households combined may have saved enough energy on an annualized basis to power more than eight average homes for a year.

Solutions that reduce energy use

Reducing energy usage from always-on devices can translate into significant energy savings in the average home. There are several ways to cut back that usage.

  1. Use smart power strips for a set-and-forget solution. They detect when a device goes into stand-by mode and cut electricity automatically.

    Some smart power bars have two settings within the same strip:
    • One for plugs that stay on, so devices like cable or satellite TV boxes retain settings; and
    • One for plugs that automatically shut off when devices are not being used, for things like phone chargers or game consoles.

    Most Wisconsin electric customers can get a free smart strip as part of an energy efficient product pack through Focus on Energy, which runs energy efficiency programs on the utilities’ behalf.
  2. Conduct a walk-through to check every outlet in the house. Don’t forget the basement, attic and garage.
  3. Consider other good opportunities to save money, which, according to the research, include replacing incandescent lights and inefficient or poorly running refrigerators. These efforts could save another 5% on a typical customer’s electric bill. Focus on Energy will pick up and recycle old, working refrigerators for eligible customers.
About the research

The Sense Home Energy Monitor pilot research was approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in 2017.

  • The results are based on a sample of 100 residential customers who chose to receive the monitor in 2018.
  • A second group of 100 customers enrolled late in 2019.
  • The pilot program will open to a third sample of 100 customers in 2020.

Participation is voluntary. The pilot research is conducted and evaluated each year by Cadmus.

The pilot is not currently accepting new enrollments. Depending on the pilot’s results, Alliant Energy may open the program to more customers in the future.

Alliant Energy applied for approval from the PSCW to run the Sense® home energy monitor pilot program in June 2017. Subsequently, AE Development Holdco LLC, an affiliate of Alliant Energy, invested in Energy Impact Partners, a group of companies that includes Sense Labs Inc. These investments were made with shareowner dollars and were not included in regulated rates charged for utility service. The pilot program and its results are independently authorized and evaluated each year by the PSCW and its evaluation partner, Cadmus.

Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company, based in Madison, Wis., provides service to 475,000 electric and 190,000 natural gas customers. The company’s mission is to deliver the energy solutions and exceptional service customers and communities count on – safely, efficiently and responsibly. Alliant Energy (NASDAQ: LNT) is a component of the Nasdaq CRD Sustainability Index, Bloomberg’s 2019 Gender-Equality Index, and the S&P 500. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter