Turn off vampire gadgets with your smartphone

Stop the electricity nightmare with Valta, a Kickstarter project that monitors when devices on standby are gobbling your energy.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
An orange circle means an idle device is sucking your power. Valta

If you're cranking your AC to beat the heat, you probably don't care too much about standby, or vampire, power. That's the juice electronics suck when they're off or in standby mode.

While it's slight, it adds up to huge national figures. Household modems and routers in nearly 90 million U.S. homes, for instance, are estimated to eat up about $1 billion in electricity annually as they're idling.

That's why smart home appliances like Valta make sense. It's a Canadian concept for an energy management system that's sensitive enough to show when devices aren't in use to cut electricity waste.

The focus of a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign, Valta consists of sockets for electrical outlets, a communications hub, and an app. The sockets have chipsets that can detect when a device is just leeching power.

You can plug your gear into them, view vampire notifications and usage data on your iPhone or the Valta Web app, and turn up devices on or off remotely.

Of course, you can use it to schedule device operations like activating your coffeemaker. The app also tracks how much you're spending on electricity, and stores all the data on Valta servers. It works with up to 16 devices.

An interesting feature of the app is geofencing. Through your smartphone, it can detect when you leave your home and when you return, meaning you can set it to turn off your stuff when you go out.

The campaign is offering Valta starting at $139 for a three-socket system, which you can add to if you want to monitor more devices. Sure, that's probably a lot more than what your idle devices are costing you, but it's also giving you functionality like remote control.

Even if you don't have a so-called smart home, Valta seems perfect for those who want better control of their power and a more granular view of electricity use. It also helps you be greener. Check out the demo vid below.