Even after we unplug our phones and other small electronics, the charger still takes a bit of power from the wall as long as it's plugged in. The phenomenon is called vampire power, and it's responsible for billions of dollars per year in wasted energy. In fact, if we cut out vampire power all together, we could save enough energy to shut down 26 coal-fired power plants.
For smaller devices, AT&T is close to releasing a solution for fighting that energy suck. The ZERO Charger stops using power from the wall when your device is unplugged.
AT&T is saying that the ZERO Charger will have USB capability, which means you can use it to charge more than just your cellphone. Not only does that make it more versatile, but it could mean fewer raw materials to create multiple chargers for different devices. For example, right now you have to purchase a separate wall charger for your iPod if you want one, but with the ZERO's USB-in, you'd be able to use that instead of springing for yet another piece of plastic.
AT&T hasn't said which phones will be compatible with the new charger, but we're hoping that this is a micro-USB charger, which major phone manufacturers have agreed on as the 2012 universal standard.
From the article in Macworld about the ZERO it sounds like the only downside is that it doesn't stop using power when your device is fully charged up. They hint that there are other companies working on ones that do, though. We'll be keeping an eye on that, for sure!
Cellphone. Creative Commons photo by jonjon_2k8
ZERO Charger via A&T