Summer is vacation season—but before you head off to enjoy some hard-earned relaxation, take steps to limit home energy waste while you’re away. There’s no need to return home to an inflated energy bill, if you reset or unplug the following home energy hogs before leaving on your vacation trip.
Ways to Save Energy at Home When You’re on Vacation
- Set your thermostat higher or switch off AC entirely. Switching off may not work if you have a pet staying at home with short pet-sitter visits, for example.
- Turn down your hot water heater (storage tank models). If there’s a “vacation” mode, you can use it—or turn off the power to the water heater completely. Just don’t try to take a hot shower immediately when you return home, unless you have an electric, on-demand water heater. For gas units, be sure to turn the gas valve off, too, for safety. When you return, run a faucet in the house (to be sure the water heating tank isn’t empty) before you turn the water heater’s power and gas back on and re-light the pilot.
- Unplug electronics: Devices that are plugged in typically continue consuming power, even it they’re switched “off.” Cell phone chargers and other electronics are notorious energy vampires. Unplug the TV and DVR unless it’s set to record future shows. Many people leave their desktop computer on constantly. Leave your home computer on, if you think you will need to access it while you’re on vacation. If everything you need is on your phone (or a laptop that’s going with you) or is stored in the cloud, it’s likely safe to unplug your computer.
- Unplug appliances: The time may be incorrect on your microwave when you return, but it’s a small sacrifice for lower energy costs. Kitchen appliances, coffee makers, microwaves and/or your washer and dryer may constantly be using power, waiting for signals from a home automation system, for example. You’ll need to unplug to be certain these appliances aren’t still sucking power.
- Close blinds or drapes: This will help block heat transfer from outdoors and keep your home safe from prying eyes.
- Check automated lighting settings: If you don’t have a timer, the cost is minimal (compared to leaving lights on constantly when you’re gone for security). Lights on a timer can make it less obvious to potential crooks that you’re on vacation. Be sure timers are set properly for the season.
- Consider turning off automatic lawn sprinklers: Especially if there is rain in the forecast, watering while you’re away may not be necessary, and you’ll save on the water bill.
- About the refrigerator: For an extended vacation (say two weeks or more) consider cleaning out the fridge and unplugging it.