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Sci-Tech

Power Tap turns outlets into electricity 'faucets'

Open the tap and let the power flow through the USB cable to your connected device.

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Let the juice flow with the Power Tap. Aeropostale

When you think about it, the power outlets in our homes are like tiny reservoirs of electricity. Stick a plug into them and in effect, you tap the power stored behind them, causing a current to flow through cords and cables into phones, fridges, and hundreds of other electricity-loving gadgets and appliances.

A new little gizmo called the Power Tap makes this principle even more apparent. Shaped like a faucet and designed to work with any standard power outlet, it has a handle on top that you can twist to turn the power on or off to the USB cable plugged into the "spout." The device was launched in the UK early last year, but just made its debut on US shores this past month.

While it's more of a novelty than something actually useful, the makers do say it can help save energy. When the handle is turned to the off position, the tap uses 85 percent less power than when it's on. (The other 15 percent serves to power the light on the tap -- red for off, blue for on). Still, you might be able to find a practical use for the gizmo, using it to control some kind of USB-powered device that doesn't have an on/off switch like those small desktop fans.

Beyond that, I think it would make a cool gift for any gadget lover in your life. At $27.50/£18/AU$33.90 (available through Aeropostale), it's definitely pricier than other USB wall chargers out there, but the fact that it doubles as an instant decor booster makes it worthwhile in my opinion. What do you think?