[toymotorhead] pieced together this USB controlled power strip to help with his electrical bill. His goal was to be able to have devices turned off automatically when he shut down his computer as well as powered on when he turned his computer on. Another requirement was that the USB be isolated to protect the motherboard from spikes.
The cost of the parts in total were less than $30, and consisted of a solid state relay, some fuses, and some transient voltage surge suppressing diodes. The unit only switches power off or on depending on whether or not the computer is powered up, it doesn’t control the outlets via software. He goes pretty in depth as to how everything works as well as showing nice diagrams and pictures. This should be a fairly quick and simple project, as long as you take the proper precautions for working with high voltage.