Ecobutton saves money and the planet with a satisfying click

At first blush, the ecobutton looks like another USB toy to distract you from your real work, but click it when you walk away from your desk, and you get to see just how much energy — and money — you can save by slashing standby power use.

Let's be honest. We all hate our PC's "hibernate" mode. It takes forever to warm back up and we're busy. But plug in the $20 glowing ecobutton (relax, the light itself uses practically no power), give it a push when you walk away, and your computer goes into rest mode that cuts its power usage up to 90%.

Grab a coffee, come back and click it again, and you first get a screen showing you how much energy, carbon and cash you've saved by using the ecobutton. Click it again and you are right where you left off, ready to go. If you like to double-click because you don't care how much money you're saving your boss, you can do that, too — it still gets you back to ready mode ASAP.

Phantom power hunting — a new sport at this year's CES — can have a remarkable impact on the user's bottom line, especially if you're, say, a company with a few hundred desktop PCs. Ecobutton estimates it could help save $1.3 billion in wasted energy and 5 million tons of carbon coughed up by 165 million idling American PCs.