Electronic timer: Reducing energy bills

My Electronic Digital Timer

We all have electronic devices in our homes that we don't need on all the time, but sometimes it's  a pain to constantly turn them off and on ourselves (switches are just so hard to operate sometimes).  That's where electronic timers come in handy.  I wrote about electronic timers in December of 2009 in an article title, Control Vampire Loads with Automatic Timer.

I recently purchased an electronic timer from RadioShack for $20 that is labeled with the GE name but is actually made by a company called Jasco Products.  I've had the timer for a few months now, but it wasn't until recently that I decided to use it for the reason I highlighted in my earlier blog post:

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 only problem was I lost the instructions (this almost always happens with me and instructions) and the device isn't that intuitive.  Luckily, I am good at googling and I found them conveniently online from the Jasco Document Support page.  All companies need to have their support documents online!

Now that I have improved my electronic timer skills, I plan on utilizing them on my digital cable box so it's not sending daytime TV signals to a TV that is off.  Considering my wife and I only watch TV for about 30 minutes each night while we eat dinner, it doesn't make sense that our cable box is working for 24 hours a day.  I just have to time it right to ensure that our favorite cable TV shows get recorded.

What other devices would work well being on a timer?

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Is your cable box like my old one? Whenever it lost power for about 15 seconds, it took hours to download the program information. ...John
John, I think the newer boxes are better about this, but yes, this is a problem and is one of the reasons it has taken me so long to try the experiment.
Electric Hot Water Heater!! Whenever I go on vacation and watch Google PowerMeter usage in my home via my Ted5000, every couple of hours there is a spike. It looks like a heart beat on a screen. The hot water heater elements kick on, heat up the water in the tank and shut off. Since my solar hot water heater is a pre-heat system, it doesn't keep the water in the heater tank hot... just the pre-heat 80 gallon tank. At the very least, I need to remember to shut off the breaker for the hot water heater when I go out of town. What I would really like to do is to figure out the best way to rig up my solar hot water heater so I'm not constantly heating up the hot water tank with electricity. It was 92 degrees Fahrenheit in Georgia today and by 4pm, my solar storage tank had 80 gallons of 140 degree Fahrenheit water! -Powell
Good point Powell! Since my water heater is gas I never thought about that. Does your electric heat plug into an outlet or is it wired straight to the breaker?
It's 220v wired. I'm with Guy on the tankless system. I think the best option with solar pre-heat is to get rid of the electric hot water heater altogether and go with a tankless option. My house is three stories and the hot water heater is on the bottom floor (terrace) I'm thinking of either a gas tankless if it will regulate the amount of heat applied to the water based on its current temperature or possibly smaller tankless units that are installed closer to the source to avoid the water waste waiting for the hot water to make the trek from the terrace to the shower on the third floor. I've heard that many of the tankless water heaters don't apply heat based on the current temperature of the water. That doesn't make much sense to me since by starting at a higher base temperature, it would apply too much energy to heating the water and scald us! thoughts? -Powell


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