Whether it’s spending less at the gas pump, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or turning down the office thermostat, individuals everywhere are looking for new and innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint and promote energy efficiency.
In addition to supporting “green” initiatives and best practices, one simple way to boost energy efficiency within your home is to install time switches to your lights and energy-heavy appliances. With just a little planning and a few small steps, you and your family can be on the road to serious energy savings in a flash.
What is a Time Switch?
A time switch, also referred to as a timer control or timer, is a clock-based device that controls when an appliance or lighting system is switched on and off. Switches come in a variety of styles, ranging from simple outlet timers to advanced digital systems, and they can be used for a multitude of different household applications. Once installed, time switches can create a fixed schedule (e.g., active every day from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) or a limited interval (e.g., active for 30 minutes once switched on) to help optimize how and when energy is used.
Time switches offer a simple yet highly effective solution to an age old problem: leaving the lights on. If you’ve ever walked out of a room without flipping the light switch or if you’ve left the air conditioner running in an empty home, you can probably relate.
In practice, these devices work as a failsafe so that small but repeated instances of energy waste are eliminated before they add up. Moreover, advanced timer controls go even further, allowing homeowners to maximize the functionality of appliances and lighting systems through dynamic schedules and customization.
Identifying Time Switch Applications
One of the best aspects of using time switches and timer controls to make your home more energy efficient is that you can start small. Because timer controls cover such a wide range of applications, it’s easy to choose a specific room or area to prioritize without making a major upfront investment.
One helpful exercise when getting started is to observe your current household setup from a different point of view. Put yourself in an outsider’s shoes and take stock of how you’re currently using resources.
Begin with the exterior of your home and start asking questions. Are there outdoor safety or entrance lights that operate with a manual on-off switch? Could you schedule your sprinklers, pool equipment or garden hoses to run on a set schedule to be more efficient? Are there any limited-use spaces, such as a back porch or garage, that might benefit from having an automatic-off or timed light switch installed?
Next, move inside and think about your daily routines, patterns and energy consumption habits. Are there major appliances, including A/C units, water heaters and refrigerators that are constantly in use even though they may not need to be? Are there spaces, such as a home gym or study, that are infrequently used but routinely zap electricity? Do you use a specific set of outlets to charge your mobile devices each night?
Simply looking through your own living environment with a new lens can help you find opportunities for energy conservation.
Installing Time Switches
After you’ve determined where your home can benefit from time switches, you’ll need to decide the type of switch that’s best for the job. Most switches are classified as either in-wall (hardwired) or plug-in (connected to a standard wall outlet). Time switches are also categorized as mechanical or electronic, though some take a hybrid approach.
Simple plug-in mechanical switches, like those commonly used with window unit air conditioners, can be installed by anyone in minutes. However, more complex timer controls, such as electronic in-wall timers that manage entire home lighting systems may need to be installed by a trained electrician. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to complete installation as a DIY project, it’s best to contact your local electrician before getting started.
Whether you end up simply adding an array of plug-in timers to your kitchen or revamp your entire living space with advanced timer controls, you can rest assured knowing the changes you make will have immediate impact on reducing waste and improving energy efficiency within your home.
Still struggling to decide on the time switch application that’s right for your home? Check out these 7 money-saving timer control applications for a bit of inspiration.