Sometimes, plug-in electrical devices really are in your hands--like a cell phone or laptop, that's where they do their best work. But we think of any device that gets plugged into an outlet--a toaster, television, lava lamp--as being in the homeowners' hands, because we can't make those decisions for them. And we can't control how much energy they might use.
We've designed the Lighting, Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation in our Energy Efficiency Lab Home so there should be no need for things like space heaters or dehumidifiers, and very little need for additional lighting.
But our Lab Home is still, some day, going to be a family's home, and the decision on whether to choose an ENERGY STAR-rated computer, TV or DVD player will be up to them.
Likewise, it's also their call on whether to adopt other energy saving measures like using "smart" power strips that monitor when plug-in devices are being used or turning down the thermostat when they go on vacation.
Ultimately, we hope the experience of seeing their energy bills shrink, or even disappear, will make many homeowners start thinking of what other ways they can reduce the energy they use.