June 8, 2009. We all know we should turn off appliances at the wall to reduce fire risk as well as our carbon emissions, but the truth is most of us can't be bothered or think to flick the switch. The eco-switch could be the answer: it’s a simple and inexpensive energy-saving device that lets you relocate the power point switch to a more convenient spot where you can turn multiple appliances on and off – with the flick of a single switch.

There's little more to the eco-switch than simply plugging appliances into it, then plugging the eco-switch into the wall outlet. When the eco-switch is turned on, so are the appliances. When the eco-switch is turned off, your appliances are off too.

According to the switch's makers, the reduction in standby power can save users more than US$80 a year and prevent 1.5 tons in greenhouse gas emissions – to say nothing of the energy saved moving from power point to power point, turning off switches.

The eco-switch is a finalist for the 2009 Next Big Thing award and is undergoing electrical safety testing. You can vote for it at Next Big Thing.

Eco-switch's developers are inviting the public to provide ideas on how the eco-switch can save energy. Here's one: a woman wrote in saying she would have to get out of bed in the cold, go around to her husband's side of the bed when he fell asleep and turn off his reading lamp. With the eco-switch, she saw a chance to avoid it by taking charge of all the switches in the bedroom.

Karen Sprey