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April 4, 2016 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Power, that is. Will surge protector with timer save significant amount of energy?

Recently installed a Nest Thermostat and now I'm trying to figure out other ways to reduce energy use. Would like to get rid of cable box -apparently they are big energy users, even when off- but my family will not allow it.

Would connecting cable box, router, and TV to surge protector with a timer significantly reduce energy? Would the energy used powering up (after time off) the router and cable box mitigate the energy saved when they were off? Are these dumb questions? Was thinking about doing this for a 6 hour period from night to early morning.

Please offer any other energy saving tips if you have time. Have the energy saving light bulbs and have turned down hot water heater. Windows are new. Other than this stuff can't think of anything else.
[Relevant information: single family, two-story home in Chicagoland.]
posted by blairsyprofane to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you use your cable box as a DVR, you may not be pleased with the results of turning if on/off daily -- I have found ours tends to reset things and generally get wonky whenever it loses power. Of course, YMMV - we have a DVR through Comcast so I'm sure it's especially bad! But, you can always experiment and see what happens. One good way to set this up if it doesn't impact usability otherwise is to get one of these mater-controlled surge protectors that would turn everything off if the TV is off, but then allow everything to be on if the TV is actually on (again, might impact your DVR if you have one, depending on how it functions).
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2016

yes, you'd save electricity. they don't take much power to start up or shut down. however, you're going to stress them more than leaving them permanently on, so they may fail earlier.

get a kill a watt or similar to see what is using most power.
posted by andrewcooke at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

As andrewcooke states you need something to measure the usage. You will save money but I think you'll be surprised at how little electricity. I measured what my Chromecast uses while idle for 17.5 hour. It was 0.07kwh. As a point of comparison, running on my treadmill for a half hour was 0.26kwh. The cable box and router will likely use more power than the Chromecast but I bet not much more.
posted by mmascolino at 11:42 AM on April 4, 2016

Cable boxes have gotten better, but the old ones from a few years ago with DVRs would routinely draw 50 watts, 24/7/365 -- that could easily be $300 a year or more. So yes, it might be worth using a timer.
posted by miyabo at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2016

Before you even think about small stuff like this, make sure all your light bulbs are LED and that your house's insulation is good. If you get a Kill-A-Watt that can measure the actual power draw of things like your cable box and TV so you can quantify the problem. Generally you would want to power the cable box constantly, but the TV, DVD player, receiver etc could just be plugged into a separate power strip that you can switch off.
posted by w0mbat at 12:15 PM on April 4, 2016

What you want here is a "smart strip".

One outlet controls power to the others, and usually there's an outlet or two not affected by the 'switch'. Example: my stereo receiver is the master, so when I turn it on the speakers and turntable and other stuff gets power but I still can plug a lamp in and not have it be affected.
posted by bradbane at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I live in a very high cost electricity market and my wife is careless about turning off lamps, so I've found this to save about 10 - 20% of my non a/c electricity usage. I used cheap mechanical timers for lamps, more expensive programmable timers for TV/audio/cable/computers etc. This paid for itsself in less than two months, though of course YMMV.
posted by mikek at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2016

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