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Home Maintenance Tip: Save Energy at Home While on Vacation

Posted on December 06, 2014

When you leave on a trip and no one is home, you don’t automatically save on energy costs. There are appliances and other devices that continue to use power from the electrical grid when no one is home. The good news is that there are steps you can take to both save money and protect your home while you are away.

1. Adjust the thermostat. In the winter, set the thermostat to 50 degrees before leaving town. This temperature is cool enough to save on your heating bill, but will prevent the plumbing pipes from freezing. In the summer, set the thermostat to 80 degrees or above. For every degree above 72 degrees that you raise the thermostat, you can save a minimum of 2-3% on your electric bill. Installing a programmable thermostat can help both when you are at home and when you are away. Make sure that you get one that controls not only the hours of the day but also the days of the week as well.

2. Close drapes and lower blinds. Drapes and blinds help to keep heat out of your home in the summer and cold out in the winter, thus slowing the rise or fall of the temperature in your home while you are away.

3. Turn off all lights. To prevent your house from appearing to be unoccupied, install an automatic timer that will cut lamps on in one or two rooms when dark approaches. The timer will also cut them off. This prevents wasting energy on lighting during the day while you are away. Also, use energy-efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent (CFLs) or LED bulbs.

4. Adjust the water heater. Water heaters can account for 14-25% of the energy consumed in a home because they use energy constantly to keep the water in the tank hot and ready for use. When no one is home, there is no need for instant hot water. When leaving town, lower the temperature on the hot water heater. For natural gas water heaters, adjust the setting to “vacation.” A long-range alternative is to invest in a tankless water heater.

5. Turn off all ceiling fans. Ceiling fans circulate air and make you feel cooler, but don’t actually cool your home. If no one is at home, ceiling fans do not benefit anyone.

6. Unplug electronics and appliances. Many appliances and electronics that have digital displays or standby power settings are considered “energy vampires” because they draw energy even when they are turned off. Before leaving town, unplug televisions, computers, DVD players, lamps, razors, hair dryers, coffee makers, toasters, digital clocks and chargers of any type. Unplugging these devices not only saves energy but also eliminates a fire hazard should there be some sort of an electrical surge during your absence. You may have to reset the clocks on some of these appliances when you return.

Invest the time to prepare for going out of town for vacation or the holidays. This routine will help save energy, lower your power bill and protect your home.


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