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Energy Saving Tips for Your Home while on Vacation

thermostatVacations are a wonderful time when you can forget about the daily stresses of life, recharge, and spend some quality time with family or friends. However, in all the excitement of packing and getting ready to leave town, people often forget to properly prepare their homes to use as little electricity as possible while they are away.

You might think that just by not using the TV and oven in your house that you will save a lot of money. But just because your home is empty of people doesn’t mean that the light and appliances in your house have stopped using electricity from the grid. Luckily, you can save a significant amount on your electric bill by following a few simple energy saving tips:

Heating and cooling

There’s no reason to keep the air conditioning or heater running while you are out of your home. You shouldn’t leave the thermostat at 72 when there is no one there to enjoy it. During the hot months of summer, the thermostat can be set to 90, or even turned off completely.

During the winter, you should never completely turn off your heater, since pipes can freeze and break. There would be nothing worse than coming home from your vacation to find a frozen dishwasher or flooded basement. Set your thermostat to around 50 degrees to keep pipes and appliances from freezing.

Keep in mind that for every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, you will save 2 to 3 percent on your electricity bill. If your thermostat is usually set at 72 degrees, and you raise it to 90 while you are gone, you will save around 32 percent on your electric bill during your vacation. Even better, if your home has a programmable thermostat that can be set by date, you can program it to change the temperature back to 72 on the day of your return from vacation, so you will be welcomed back to a cool house and a lower energy bill.

The exception to this is if you have pets. If your family is going on an extended vacation and your pets are not coming with you, it would be a good idea for you to make arrangements with friends or a pet boarding facility to care for them away from your home. If the pets are going to remain in the home, then you will need to set the temperature appropriately for them. Ask your veterinarian what home temperature will keep your pets safe while still conserving energy.

Water heater

Water heaters usually sit in an out-of-the-way part of the house, and we only remember them when the water turns cold during a long shower. It’s easy to forget about your water heater when you leave for vacation.

Before you leave your house, shut off the breaker to the water heater. If you have a gas heater, turn off the gas valve as well. When you return home, run the hot water tap before gas and power are turned back on to ensure the tank isn’t empty, since heating an empty water tank will damage it.

If you leave your house during the winter, you should set the water heater on at the lowest possible (or “vacation” setting) to prevent the water from freezing in the tank and lines.

Appliances

Many people don’t know that even when appliances are turned off, they still use electricity. If you’re leaving for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to unplug all appliances and electronics before you leave. This includes televisions, entertainment centers, lamps, coffee pots, razors, cell phone chargers, digital clocks, and so on. Any electronic device that can be unplugged should be. This not only save electricity, but also eliminates a possible fire hazard if there were to be a power surge.