When my wife and I head out on vacation (unfortunately not often enough) we like to use an automatic light timer to turn on our lamp (with its CFL) in the living room for a few hours each day to foil would-be robbers. (Yes, occasionally I rank home safety over saving a few watts.) The automatic light timer is a very simple device usually just relegated to Christmas lights and living room lamps; however, it wasn't until I read Tom Harrson's post at fivepercent.us on "How to Tame Your DVR's Appetite for Energy" that I realize other uses for the timer.
When answering his self-acclaimed "very very pale green" cousin's question on how she can save energy when her DVR isn't recording TV shows Tom had this advice:
However, consider the following tip: if you have nothing to record between, say midnight to 4pm, you can do this:
1) Plug everything (TV, Cable Box, DVD Player, whatever) into a power strip
2) Plug the power strip into a light timer
3) Set the light timer to turn off at midnight and on at 4pm
4) plug the light timer into the wall
Then, not only will you miss little or nothing, you will get rid of the power of the cable box and the standby power of the TV and whatever else, and have the whole system off for two-thirds of the day.
In another example, say your kid leaves his PS3 or Xbox on even after he's done playing it. Program the timer to turn it off after his bedtime and to turn on whenever he gets done with his homework. Presto! Automatic energy savings.
So think about any vampire loads you may have around the house that could benefit from being automatically turned off, get an automatic light timer, and put it to good use!