Published on November 24th, 2014 | by Peter Young


How To Use Timers In Your Home For Maximum Energy Efficiency

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Looking for an elegant and simple way to save money and make your home more energy efficient? Installing a timer on things in your home that don’t need to be on 24/7 is a great way to do exactly that. You see, timers (like the one pictured above) will help to reduce the amount of vampire power that your electronics consume every month, but they’ll still provide you with power when you need it. Think about your wi-fi, for instance. It’s on 24/7, but not in use (usually) while people are asleep. Not only is that a waste of energy, it shortens the life of your modem/router, it puts EMFs into your home while you’re sleeping, and it could potentially allow hackers to try to get onto your network while you’re asleep. Put it on a timer and you could cut 1/4 to 1/3 of the electricity it uses, and have all those other benefits, too.

Just follow these easy steps to start saving money and reducing your homes overall energy consumption:

How to install and use a timer for maximum energy efficiency

Before getting started, check out the video below to familiarize yourself with both the timer and how to install it (note: this video talks about using a timer to control lights for a hydroponic system, but the same ideas will apply to all areas of your home):

1. Unplug your appliance from the wall outlet. Simply unplug whichever electronic device you’d like to place on the timer from your wall outlet and leave it unplugged for now.

2. Set the on and off intervals for your timer. Typically these timers are used in 12 hour cycles (which will be marked by one white and one black interval on the face of the timer). Turn the dial so that the arrow which indicates the current time is set to your current time. Now compress the intervals for when you would like the timer to provide power to your electronics. For example, if you’re going to be using your timer in conjunction with a coffeemaker, and you only use your coffeemaker from 6am-8am, compress the intervals from 6am-8am to create your on time. This way your coffeemaker will only receive power during the on interval and the timer will prevent power from being drawn by your device for the remaining 22hrs of the day.

3. Plug in your timer. Now that you’ve set your on and off intervals for your timer, go ahead and plug it into the wall. Just be sure that your timer is set to have the timer engaged and running, otherwise your electronic device will continue to draw power and add to your monthly electric bill.

4. Plug your appliance into the timer. Now all that’s left is plugging your device into the timer and letting it do its thing. It might be a good idea to test your timer before plugging it in and leaving it unattended. Try setting the timer so that it comes on 1 minute from your current time, and have it turn off after five minutes. If your timer works as you intend, then you’re ready to set the times for your electronic device and start saving money!

Note: this is just one of many types of timers on the market…some are much more high tech, but for all intents and purposes, this is the basic framework for how they work. Since timers are also capable of programming, they not only eliminate vampire power but can also be set to avoid peak demand charges when electricity rates are highest.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your home more energy efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons (Outlet Timer)

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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