According to Ameren, a St. Louis-based electric and gas utility corporation, 75% of the electricity used to power your electronics is consumed when these electronics are turned off but still plugged in.

Keeping your cell phone on the charger for 24 hours will only cost you about 1 cent per day, but the larger electronics can certainly make a difference. A 46-inch LCD TV, for example, will cost you $11 per month (about $143 a year) if left off but still plugged in.

Considering that most households have multiple TVs, at least one computer, and a myriad of other electronics, many households are wasting away hundreds of dollars a year in unused electricity.

Prior to smart power strips, the only solution was to unplug your electronics when they’re not in use. Of course, this is becoming more and more unrealistic, considering the amount of electronics we have today compared to only a decade or so ago. With the new meters, significant cost savings can be realized without having to do anything.

Smart power strips are similar to traditional power strips in their appearance and number of outlets, but in a “smarter”, more efficient way. They work by sensing the current in one outlet, and switching on or off the rest. Let’s say you have your computer, printer, and speakers plugged into a strip. If you turn your speakers off, the strip will automatically cut the power to the speakers. If your printer goes in standby mode, the strip will automatically cut the power to the printer. The strip knows that your computer is still on, so that outlet is unaffected.

You can now find a wide range of smart meters online and in hardware, electronics, and home improvement stores. Most have excellent surge protection capabilities, and many have extra functions.

Right now, Ameren customers can receive a $10 rebate for smart power strips through its website. Even if you’re not an Ameren customer, the price range for most strips is an affordable $16 to $40. Households that have a high level of energy consumption from electronics can see a full return on the investment through electric bill savings in as little as one month.