My first energy epiphany came when I used my Kill A Watt to measure a digital video recorder (DVR)—it uses about 52 W on standby! It is basically a desktop computer that’s on all the time, consuming more than 1.2 kWh each day. To cut its energy use, I plugged it into a timer, which turns it on at 6 p.m. and off again at 2 a.m., and programmed the DVR to dial in and get programming updates at 1 a.m. Each month, this saves 25 kWh. At my local utility rate of 18 cents per kWh, that’s more than $50 saved each year!
The timers that I use are digital with battery backup, and cost about $10. They can be programmed to the minute and set for specific days as needed, and have a convenient manual override button. The timers use a miniscule amount of power (0.2 W when the internal relay is off and 0.8 W when on)—the old rotary ones that use clock motors draw about twice as much. Other items I control with timers are the wireless network router, cable modem, decorative lighting, and heat recovery ventilator system.