Are These 5 Energy-Saving Gadgets for the Home Worth the Money?

By , dealnews contributor

Did you know that some "energy saving devices," are products that just sport a green label in an attempt to get you to make an investment in the environment cough up the big bucks? Just because an item is deemed "energy saving" doesn't mean the doodad is actually doing any good. In some cases, it might barely work, or simply isn't worth the hefty investment.

Because some companies lack conscience, and Green Dad likes sorting out handy-dandy gadgets from the duds, I'm back with the third in a series on energy saving devices. As with our investigation about x and y, we'll now look at five items that make energy saving claims, and determine whether you should invest in or just ignore them.

Tripp Lite Eco 12-Outlet Surge Protector with Coaxial and Telephone Connectors
The Lowdown: Tripp Lite is one of the most trusted brands in power conditioning and surge protection, and is highly regarded for its ability to protect for expensive electronics. This Eco Surge Protector even features a unique netbook switch that allows users to select wattage for a variety of computers and gadgets, and offers 3600 joules of advanced surge protection.

The Verdict: Amazon's pricepoint ($57.99 with free shipping, a price low by $4) on this surge proctector is nearly half off retail, and the lowest price we could find. Green Dad owns two advanced Tripp Lite products and swears by them. This product, with normal use, should save you up to $40 in electricity a year — not to mention the fact that it'll safeguard your best components from unexpected power surges if lightning were to strike nearby. If you don't need the additional coax connections, you could opt for the Tripp Lite Protect It! 12-Outlet Surge Suppressor ($22.99 with $4.63 s&h, a low by $3; click through to

Belkin Conserve Socket Energy-Saving Outlet
The Lowdown: Belkin is another one of these go-to brands known for its quality, and the principle of this device couldn't be simpler: plug in the Conserve Socket and set the timer for 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours.

The Verdict: Setting a timer is a huge boon especially when you're using potentially hazard electronic devices like space heaters. What's more, 121 out of 151 Amazon reviewers rate the Belkin at 4 or 5 stars, and the cumulative score is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I'm calling this one a winner, because at just $9.99 (with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5; or opt for $9.99 with pickup), you'll be keeping yourself and your savings safe.

Belkin Conserve Valet Energy-Saving USB Charging Station
The Lowdown: Charge up to four smartphones or other USB-supported devices with just one Conserve Valet Charging Station. This USB will deliver juice to your gadgets for 4.5 hours and then shuts off automatically.

The Verdict: Though popular among Amazon users, the Conserve Valet ($27.67 with free shipping, a low by $2) is not as big a hit as the Conserve Socket. Here's the rub: Some users complain that the unit is too stingy in its power charging delivery, and that the auto shut-off feature sometimes deprives devices of a full charge. That said, UL validates that this device can save you up to 67% in energy costs per year when charging four mobile devices.

Duracell Mini NiMH Battery Charger
The Lowdown: According to the Federal Government's EnergyStar website, conventional battery chargers can draw as much as 5 to 20 times more energy than actually gets stored in the battery cell. This Mini Charger juices up two AAA or AA nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. A set of the AA NiMH batteries are included.

The Verdict: By using rechargeable NiMH technology, you'll get more use out of your batteries. This international charger (100-240V technology) is a sound investment at $13.65 (with free shipping, a low by $3) and will juice up your batteries in eight hours, which earns it Green Dad and EnergyStar approvals. If you want to go green with your charger, this is one route to try. This EnergyStar-approved list of other appliances also charge batteries.

Viatek G-Ener-G Energy Saving Device
The Lowdown: This device claims to help you save up to 35% on electric bills, using a "harmonic resistant capacitor" that regulates the ampage of air conditioners, fans, games, refrigerators, computers, microwaves, stereos, washing machines, and more.

The Verdict: After lots of research, I can tell you two things: 1. G-Ener-G normally retails for $50, so $36.99 (with free shipping, a low by $3) is a relative bargain; and 2. I couldn't find a single review on this product to determine whether it actually works. It might be an interesting experiment to buy one and see if it operates as advertised. (Anyone who has experience with it, feel free to share what you know with Green Dad readers.)

Front page photo credit: Hartman Electric

Lou Carlozo is dealnews' Green Dad columnist. He was most recently the managing editor of, and before that a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Follow him on Twitter — @LouCarlozo63. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Quick note on the Viatek - google "power factor correction". The important thing to note is that this will only really be helpful for anything with motors (i.e. inductive loads) - and even then, it's only a savings if you are running the devices 24/7. It also varies a lot depending on the age and make of the inductive devices as well.