Whether you’re a tree-hugger concerned about the environment or, more likely, someone who’d rather shrink their electricity bill, the EnergyEgg should appeal. We’ve seen plenty of devices that claim to reduce your energy consumption, but most rely on you to do the work.
Energy monitors which display and even log your home’s electricity use are all well and good – they can be a revelation in terms of which devices consume the most power, and can help cut your bill as there’s a constant reminder of how many watts you’re using. However, they won't save you a penny unless you start switching things off.
The EnergyEgg is different: it turns off your appliances for you. This is great if you’re the kind of person who leaves the TV on and wanders into a different room for an hour, or your switches are buried far behind all your home entertainment equipment.
We like simple products, and the EnergyEgg fits that bill nicely. In the box are two components: a motion sensor and a wall plug. The sensor is powered by the included 9V battery and communicates wirelessly with the wall plug. The plug is rated for up to 3000W, so you can plug it directly into a wall outlet and attach a multi-way socket to provide extra sockets for several appliances.
On the underside of the sensor is a dial which allows you to set the timeout to cut power to the wall plug. There are five-minute intervals from five to 30 minutes, which means that the sensor will wait that length of time after it last detects movement before it turns your devices off.
The Scottish maker claims that it can tell the difference between an empty room and someone sitting still (reading or watching TV, for example). However, the EnergyEgg warns you with a fair amount of beeping one minute before it turns the power off so you can wave your arms and prevent that happening.
We found the sensor worked well during our tests. It cut the power only when we’d left the room and never when we were present and reading or typing. When you return to the room, power isn’t restored automatically (that’s by design). Instead, you tap the button on top of the EnergyEgg to turn your gear back on. There’s also a button on the plug itself to turn the power on or off, but this is unlikely to be in an easy-to-reach location.
If you want the sensor to control devices that aren’t near each other, or even in different rooms, you can buy extra wall plugs from John Lewis for £7.95 each; the EnergyEgg can talk to up to 12. Alternatively, you can buy the EnergyEgg Family pack rather than this 'solo' pack - it costs £50, but comes with three wall sockets, making it the best-value option.
We wouldn’t advise using the system with certain devices, though. PCs are top of our list, as they won’t take kindly to regular power cuts and you might lose unsaved work as well. It is possible to configure your computer’s power saving options so it goes in to hibernation mode (not sleep mode) before the timeout you’ve set on the EnergyEgg. However, you’ll save only a few watts as just about all monitors automatically go into standby when they lose a signal from the PC. Similarly, it’s possible to use the EnergyEgg with PVRs but they won’t be able to record programmes when they’re completely off.
The EnergyEgg is great if you have high-draw appliances which are likely to be accidentally left on by, say, an elderly person. It can also double as a safety device in certain situations: it’s dangerous leaving an iron turned on, but the EnergyEgg can help prevent disaster. Alternatively, if you have kids which regularly leave the TV and games console on, the EnergyEgg can save a considerable amount of money over several years.