Compared to the same month last year, we’ve dropped our energy useage from 2800 kWh to 2400 kWh. Want to know how we saved that energy (and money)?
We have a fairly high-tech household, but not much more so than average. We have two computers, a couple laptops, two TVs, one in a home theater, a stereo, and a number of game systems. Add that to an average number of large appliances, and lighting for our home, and you’d do well to only consume 2800 kWh.
What most people don’t realize is that most of these devices draw power all the time — even when they’re off. If a device is plugged in, and has a remote control, or an always-on Internet connection, then its constantly sucking juice from the grid. So when you turn your TV off at night and go to bed, you’re throwing away dollars a month while you sleep — all so your media system can spring to life next time you hit a button on the remote.
Last year Home Depot starting selling power strips with programmable timers on them. For $15 they have four outlets controlled by the timer, and four always-on. The timer is digital, has a tiny back-up battery so you don’t have to re-program if the power goes out, and allows up to 7 discrete programs. We bought two for our most power-hungry devices.
Yesterday I went to pick-up another one, and found them in a clearance bin for $5 each. Apparently not enough people picked-up on this idea to make them worth selling. I bought 4 more.
With just two of these timers, set to disconnect the power from a few devices at midnight, and hook them up with juice again at 8am, we save 400 kWh a month. Now we have 6, and virtually the entire house goes off at midnight. A couple of them are set to turn off power to specific devices during peak summer daytime hours too, which will save us even more money.
Its a stunningly simple idea: why spend money on powering your TV if its off, and you don’t need to use it?
Of course, there’s the occasional time when you happen to get in at 12:30 at night, and wish you could print something before bed, only to find that the printer has had it’s power cut. But really, why pay constantly for that fairly uncommon scenario?
It’s cheap, it saves you money, and it manages itself. Once you get your programs set around your routine, you don’t even have to think about it. Our goal is to get down to 2000 kWh, which would save us over $550 a year… Seems worth the effort!

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