Recently I wrote about Smart Meters and on Saturday I could see one in action - unfortunately not in my house. Over, at the other house, the owner had already detected one unneeded consumer he hadn't really thought of. The reaction to that finding was to plug it off.
The ON/OFF is a very natural way of thinking, especially for Computer Scientists. Many automated things around our homes and offices use that principle to control electrical consumers. Infrared sensors switch lights on and off, timers control when and for how long things are turned on, lawns are watered from x to y, and so on.
What is needed is a more adapted approach where we are moving away from the ON/OFF for many of the simple things. In many cases we already have technology for ecological use ("tecology"?), but don't apply it (for many reasons). To give an example: The CPU clock speed is reduced in our computers when we don't need that much CPU power to reduce energy consumption - you are probably using that feature on a daily basis. Similarly, we have sensors and controllers to adjust light output to automatically keep rooms at constant brightness with a mix of natural and artificial light. Does your home or your office have such a feature? Probably not. And you would not have it at home even if it would be affordable. The reason is that it is way more complex and time consuming to install a new ceiling lamp than to install or upgrade new hardware such as hard disks or CPU modules.
I am still waiting for an universal lamp mount where I can plug a lamp and thereafter the wires are connected and the lamp itself is safely mounted. That also explains why one year after moving into our new home many lamps are still missing...