There was a furore when people suddenly discovered that the ‘standby’ condition for electrical devices allowed them to continue drawing current when not in use and thus wasting energy. I’m therefore amazed that I haven’t been able to find any reference to the following idea (at least in the course of a quick patent and web search).
Toaster technology is still pretty primitive…mostly it’s a story of an overelaborate initial design being multiply updated with rigorous cost cutting at every stage of evolution (I’ll no doubt return to the subject of that ridiculous universal clamping system in due course). When you shove in fewer than the maximum number of slices allowed for a given design, all the heating elements fire up, full blast.
Today’s invention is a simple optical switch that can be fitted to existing toasters to allow them to sense which slots actually contain bread and to allow current to flow in the corresponding heating elements only.
This allows up to a 50% saving in the cost of running a toaster, over the course of its life.