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Save money and help the energy crisis.

October 18th, 2007 · 30 Comments

The following post is one of those blinding moments of inspiration that hits us once in a while and all I can see are benefits.

 Standby mode uses a constant drain of power and the older the device the more the power drain. The total cost to the average household has been reckoned to be up to 10% of the total electricity cost that is lost while devices are in standby mode.

For all those who are reading this on their monitors you will notice that there is a power switch on your monitor so USE IT AND TURN IT OFF AT NIGHT – your monitor does not need to go into standby mode . If this seems like hard work then fit a timer switch to this as well.

Here is a list of devices we have running in our homes. A printer, mobile phone charger x no of occupants in the house, a  PDA charger, Hifi, Games System, video, dvd and television x the no of occupants (or at least one in each bedroom!), laptop charger even the humble PC consumes a trickle of power when it is apparently switched off – feel the power transformers and they will be warm. Then we can get really pedantic and look at items such as the cooker and microwave which typically have LED lights which are powered all of the time (the shocking news is that the average microwave oven uses more power over its life to run the clock than it does cooking food! – FACT Google it!)

 The solution is to turn these devices off but we are usually lazy and the off switch is usually located behind a cupboard or in an in-accessible place. Then the devices are spread all over the house.

Here is my brainwave. Get a timer switch or a set of them – 3 is all the typical household really needs. You need to make sure that the power rating of the timer switch is compatible with the power of the appliances plugged into it. As most devices are clustered together and generally run off a multi plug adapter anyway, so  by fitting a timer switch you can half the standby time. For example you know you will not be watching TV from say 11:00 to probably the following evening so you can switch this off during those hours. Timer switches do obviously use a trickle of power so it would not be worth getting one for just the microwave but placing one on the main drains and particularly older devices will more than recoup its cost. People moan that all the settings are lost when devices switch off – this is usually assumed. Most modern appliances keep their settings when switched   off and even a router will only take a few minutes to reboot.

Modern timer switches can have around 20 switching points and settings for different days. A few minutes of your time and a very small outlay for a few timer switches will save you money, help the environment, keep the cost of energy down  and allow you to keep control of your (and your families) television viewing habits! Compare prices on  timer switches in the UK here  or  see  USA timer prices.

Tags: Gadgets

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Adam Donkus // Oct 18, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    A really good tip for saving energy…but it takes me for every to program some of those devices.

  • 2 Tim Juggins // Oct 18, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Wow, that is a truly stupid idea. You really think that this is feasible for me to go and buy 30 different timers and set them all up on schedules for when I THINK I am going to have to use them. Wow, I thought that this was going to be a useful article.

  • 3 dude // Oct 18, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Some Devices that trickle energy, require that energy to function correctly, placing them on timers is not the best solution. It can in fact damage a wide variety of equipment. Much of the technology we use today runs with embeded Operating systems, just like windows they need to be shutdown properly not abruptly.

  • 4 ME // Oct 18, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Those timers consume electricity as well. You should find a very low power timer and make sure that it’s actually goint to save you energy before you attempt this.

  • 5 logicwhitney // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    I have set up switches in my home. These switches power powerstrips and are located next to my light switch. When I leave the room, I just switch both and all power is cut. Works pretty well, just make sure you have at least 15amp rated switches or more.
    I save about 3amps with this method. It’s amazing how much power a speaker system draws while in standby. Mine sucked 1 amp in standby.

  • 6 Skim Jones // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    The timer switch you recommend wastes electricity.
    It is using electricity to keep time.

    Instead get an powerstrip or surge protector with multiple outlets that has a power switch. Plug all your things in that and then turn off the power to everything with the simple click of the power switch.

  • 7 Matt D // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Yeah, but how much energy do all of those timers on stand-by use?
    This is a cool concept, a switch to turn your house off when you leave, though sadly only a concept: http://www.yankodesign.com/?p=546

  • 8 Adam Davis // Oct 18, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Oh, and please keep in mind that cheap timers consume a surprising amount of electricity themselves.

    -Adam

  • 9 Anon // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    I have even a better idea. Link all your wires to a single plug point. Use those 6-socket things with a (on/off) switcher. Then you can turn all your devises off with a single switch.

  • 10 Ding Bang // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    The problem is that manufacturers should then save all your setting on some sort of flash device on each of you components – otherwise, you lose all you settings and it is a pain to get it back there. If that happens, a simple timer switch will be awesome!

  • 11 wl // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    this is a good strategy – assuming the power to run the timer is lower than that consumed by the devices in standby

  • 12 Michael // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Won’t all the timer switches use more power than the LED on my microwave in the long run.

  • 13 PAStheLoD // Oct 18, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    The ideal solution would be to make switches for the appliances in a given room next to the light switch. So when I go into my kitchen I just switch on the power in that room. Sure it’s not really viable without rewiring the whole house, but plans for the future are always good :)

    May the sale figures for the timer switches raise to the sky ^-^

    I’ve switchable distributors around the house and I use them, but my PC is always on, so there goes the gained energy saving … :|

  • 14 Cheeseburger Brown // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Well, in contrast to Adam, I don’t see the time investment as a serious impediment to implementing this idea. Maybe Adam has a fatter billable hour than I do.

    However, one must acknowledge the annoyance factor of having all those bloody devices with clocks built into them flashing “12:00!” all day because they were depowered during the night.

    The obvious solution: black duct tape.

    Love,
    Cheeseburger Brown
    http://cheeseburgerbrown.com

  • 15 Ed Robbins // Oct 18, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Nice idea, but the timer switch draws power as well. Whether it’s mechanical or electronic. At least the electronic ones that I have. You’d have to determine if the timer switch draws more power than the device does while in sleep mode.

  • 16 bok // Oct 18, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    doesn’t the timer suck energy?
    i hope you’re not a tool of the electronic timer industry trying to pedel more timers to the unsuspecting public.

    that said, if you run many devices running standby off one timer, maybe this could work. you have to be sure the electric motor in the timer isn’t more expensive than the solidstate stuff running on standby.

  • 17 James // Oct 18, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Don’t timers use electricity? Power strips, though an annoyance to deal with, don’t continue to sip power (at least not the ones without lighted switches).

  • 18 Darryl // Oct 18, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Why don’t they just start making devices that actually turn off when they’re “off”? I don’t need the microwave to tell me the time. Nor my oven, nor anything else. I don’t leave my cell phone charger plugged in when it isn’t used, and one of my friends actually switches off (in the back) his PS2 when it isn’t on.
    But, for a different approach, how about solar-powered standby modes? If it only consumes a watt or less, even a small LIon battery will hold days worth of standby charge and recharge completely every time the lights are on. Just a thought.

  • 19 T. O Donnell // Oct 18, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    You could also connect low-wattage devices to a socket board, and just turn that off at the mains when you’re not using them e.g. when you’re sleeping.

    I have two socket boards; one for things I use every day, and another for devices I use occasionally. The latter is off most of the time. The former is off when I’m not on the PC.

    Devices which use power adapters can use power even when turned off; if you feel the adapter, and it’s warm, it’s using electricity.

    To Adam Donkus: There are simple timers available which anyone can program.

    One problem: Some devices, like DVD players, lose stored settings if turned off completely : (

    Otherwise, you can save a lot of money turning things off.

  • 20 ojas // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    neat idea. how much energy does a typical timer, itself, consume?

  • 21 Don // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    But, wouldn’t the timers be consuming electricity? Especially if you used a remote/master system.

  • 22 Steve // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    If it’s a mechanical timer, don’t forget you lose the energy to drive the timer 24 hours a day; it may be more than the standby time you save. Actually, when I think about it, that even applys if you’re using an electronic timer…

  • 23 Anonymous // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    you’ll end up spending more money buying timer switches than you’ll save. not to mention all the energy used to making one of those, and the timer switch itself will also use electricity.
    I wound up with a lot of power strips that have a switch on them, so I have most everything plugged into those and just flip the switch.

  • 24 Your Reader // Oct 18, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Hey, thanks for the article.

    How about this one … imagine a “smart” powerstrip that senses when you have switched on/off ONE of your many devices. When that one device changes state, the power strip automatically cuts or gives power to the other devices!! Great idea, right? Add in the standard surge protection, damaged equipment insurance, and large spaced outlets to fit your wall warts … and you have the SMARTSTRIP. search for it and read up, its a great product

  • 25 uh // Oct 18, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    it should take you maybe a minute to “program” them

    most of them are 1 switch for every 3 minutes of the day. some have 1 switch for each hour of each day of the week. i cant imagine one taking longer than 5 minutes to set

  • 26 Brad P. Severance // Oct 18, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    I use powerstrips with a trip on them, and just turn off the trip when I’m not using the devices. Similar concept.

  • 27 lajaw // Oct 19, 2007 at 12:23 am

    But your timer switch also uses electricity.

  • 28 asdf // Oct 20, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Maybe we should just turn off the fridge while we are at it

  • 29 dd12101 // Oct 20, 2007 at 3:02 am

    This does work if done practically, I am a work at home consultant with at least 2 if not 4 PCs going at one time. I put timers on the DSL box, printer, PCs, and 2 fishtanks. The timers were set to ON from 6:00AM to 11 PM and I have noticed a considerable difference. Probably $50.00 to $75.00 a month. I am thinking about putting them on all 3 TVs throughtout the house also. I got the digital timers at Lowes for about $15.00 each. Small investment up front pays for itself in a month or two.

    Of course it all depends on your usage, I have a family of four so I am constantly turning lights off, shutting down PCs, etc.

  • 30 Peytan // Apr 2, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Amen! Vampires are killing my budget and it’s time we get rid of them once and for all!

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