Summer vacations are something a lot of families look forward to. Even a short getaway is an opportunity to relax, unwind, and spend time with loved ones. And if you do it right, your holiday can also double as a hiatus from your typical electricity bill.
With a bit of planning and preparation, you can temporarily set your home’s energy efficiency to “maximum,” saving electricity and money when you’re away. Read on for easy, DIY tips to maximize your home’s energy efficiency while you’re on vacation.
How to Maximize Your Home’s Energy Efficiency While You’re On Vacation
You’ll automatically reduce your energy usage while on vacation because you simply won’t be home to use the energy. If you’re lounging on a beach somewhere, you’re not running the washing machine, watching TV, or enjoying your air conditioner’s frosty exhalations — and that alone is a good start. But there are several other strategies that will help you save even more.
1. Adjust the Thermostat
Whether you’re using the AC or running the heater, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home is a constant effort. The Department of Energy has said that it can account for up to 40% of your electricity usage.
When you’re away and there’s nobody home to enjoy the climate-controlled air, you can increase or decrease the thermostat, depending on the season, or even shut it off completely. Every degree can save up to two or three percent on your bill. So if you were to raise for thermostat from 72 to 90 degrees during the heat of summer, for example, you’d save about 30% on energy costs.
Giving the air conditioner an HVACaction may not work for everyone. First, if you have pets that will be staying home, make sure to maintain an environment that’s comfortable for them. Check with your veterinarian to determine the ideal temperature. Second, if you vacation during the winter months, don’t turn the thermostat completely off but rather drop it down to 50 degrees. This will minimize energy usage while preventing the pipes from freezing.
2. Turn Down the Water Heater
If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t think about the water heater very often. It’s generally out of sight and out of mind (until there’s no hot water). But if you plan to be away for an extended period of time, switching off this appliance is a great way to reduce energy waste. Make it a point to turn off your electric water heater before you leave – or better yet, shut it off at the breaker. If you have a gas heater, simply close the gas valve.
It’s important to exercise caution when adjusting your water heater during the winter months, however. You don’t want to return home to a frozen tank and damaged pipes. If the weather is likely to dip below freezing, consider adjusting the heater to its lowest setting. Some newer models even have built-in “vacation modes” designed to save energy.
3. Unplug Electronics & Appliances
Did you know that your TVs, appliances, and other plugged-in electronic gadgets can draw power even when they’re turned off? Such “vampire electricity” costs Americans billions in wasted energy each year.
That’s one pie you don’t want a slice of. Before you leave home, take a quick walk through your house first to make sure your devices are not only turned off but unplugged. This includes TVs, computers, the washing machine, and even small appliances like the coffee machine.
4. Upgrade to Automatic Lights
Houses that look unoccupied – lights off, Amazon boxes piled up by the front door – tend to attract the attention of shady characters. One of the most common things people do before going on vacation is to leave a few lights on. This will give your home an occupied vibe, but it’s not an energy-efficient way to achieve this effect.
Consider upgrading to automatic lights with a built-in timer. This will allow you to schedule the lights to illuminate only during the evening hours, so you’re not wasting money with unnecessary daytime use. You can also complement your lighting scheme with exterior motion-detecting lights.
5. Shut the Blinds & Curtains
Another simple (and free) way to reduce your heating and cooling costs is to shut all the blinds and curtains in your home. Sunlit windows can quickly heat rooms – and your HVAC system will be forced to compensate for the temperature fluctuation.
Unless you have plants that need light, closing the blinds and drawing the curtains is a simple way to decrease temperature spikes that trigger the AC. If you’re adjusting your thermostat as described in the first tip, closing the blinds will complement your effort.
6. Turn Off the Refrigerator
Always-on refrigerators can account for seven to 10 percent of monthly electricity usage. The idea of turning it off might seem ridiculous (what will happen to the food!?), but hear us out!
If you’re going to be away from home for longer than perishable food typically lasts, use the time leading up to your vacation as an opportunity to consume everything in the fridge. Then clean and unplug it before you leave. You can even place a box of baking soda inside to draw out odors and moisture. Think of it as a reset button for your refrigerator that eliminates food and energy waste. You’ll return home to a unit that feels like new and is ready to be stocked with fresh ingredients!
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Improving your home’s energy efficiency before leaving for vacation is a great way to save money some of the time, but wouldn’t it be even better to save money all the time? That’s what can happen when you sign up for a CleanSky Energy electricity plan.
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