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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I'm using Toastmaster mechanical timers on all the candle lights in my house windows (10 timers total). What is the watt usage of the actual timer (I've looked but I don't think it's listed on the unit) and would it just be better to leave the candle lights on 24/7 instead of running 10 timer loads? Thanks for any help you can offer.
ckmapawatt's picture
Do you have a product page/website for the timer? You can always get a <a href="" rel="nofollow">kill-a-watt</a> and plug it in to see how much power the candle lights consume with and without the timer.
Thanks Chris. I'll try the kill-a-watt. I've tried to no avail to get info on the units, so I will try the direct approach. It's a lot of lights and many timers and we had a discussion over Christmas with our family about the topic of timer loads in general, and their efficiency. Thanks again.
Hi Mapawatt (Chris)! For years I've lived aboard a boat where all energy use was closely monitored and reduced wherever possible. For heating we simply turned the heating on and off as we needed it, before that I lived in the UK where central heating (and hot water) is standard and controlled by timers to come on and off whenever you program it to, normally in the morning and evening (so off during the work day and at night), most now even have special weekend settings too so they can be on all day Saturday and Sunday. Now I've just moved to NJ and a rented apartment - I can't believe my landlord telling me it is cheaper to just leave the heating on all the time and don't touch the thermostat. A quick search and I can't find any USA timer/thermostat - do they exist? or am I stuck with turning the heat on and off myself (and coming home to a cold house)? I'm also told that my water heater tank (gas) cannot be tied to a programmable timer either... Any search for heating system thermostat/timer on Google seems to send me to UK sources, and of course the power voltage is different. What options are there for the USA?
ckmapawatt's picture
Maryanne, Great inquiries! You're right not to trust your landlord, in fact, I wrote about this issue last year: I think there are options for both of your needs, but before we go any further, we have to see what types of heating systems you have. Are both your heat and your water electric? Is the heat controlled centrally, or does your apartment have it's own heat. If electric, do you know what the voltage is? Is there a place on the wall where a thermostat is?
I would like to use a timer/switch for my laundry washer and dryer. They are used the most in the house however they also sit on standby for quite a few hours out of the day. my question is how do i know if the energy is saved as the outlet timer uses energy just as the wash machine does when the stand by lights are on.
I also use a timer for my DVR, which draws 37 watts when off. This Winter, I had a timer on the electric radiator in the baby's room as it only needed supplemental heat at night.
I have used timers for several years for energy conservation. The best ones are about $10 from Harbor Freight, they can be programmed down to the minute for up to 4 events per day. They have battery backup and use less than .5 Watt compared to the rotary motor driven ones that draw 2 Watts! We use them to shut off the cable modem and wireless routers at night and to leave the DVR and all the TV stereo equipment off all day. I programmed the DVR to download the programming info at 1:00 am and the timer shuts it off at 1:30. I also control our propane monitor room heaters, my heat recovery ventilator and several other items around the house. Many people here in my neighborhood use timers for their water heaters too, but we work at home, so we leave it on - it never runs at night for some reason. We do have a solar pre-heat tank and eventually plan to replace the propane tank heater with a tankless one.
Guy, How many timers do you have?! I vote you the king of electronic timers.
Last count we're using 6 timers to control all the vampire loads and heaters. Oh, and we did put in that tankless heater recently: Guy


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