Ways to save energy while you’re away from home

7 easy steps that can save you unnecessary energy costs while away

Whether you’re leaving your home for the weekend or an extended vacation, consider this energy efficiency checklist to take advantage of simple adjustments that can help save you energy and money while you’re away.

Program your thermostat

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If your home will be unoccupied, setting your thermostat at a higher or lower temperature than usual will be among the biggest energy savers. If you have a programmable thermostat, use the “vacation” mode. If you have a manual unit, adjusting your thermostat a few degrees will have a significant impact. A change of just 3 degrees for 24 hours a day can save 30 percent on your heating costs. Set the fan to “auto,” not “on.”  You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7 degrees to 10 degrees F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. If the forecast is for mild weather, consider turning the system off. Learn more about smart thermostats.

Keep window coverings closed

About 30% of a home’s energy is lost through windows, so remember to close blinds, shades and curtains before you leave to help regulate your home’s inside temperature.

Unplug nonessential appliances and electronics

Electrical appliances plugged into an outlet use energy even when turned off, accounting for up to 10% of your energy bill. So make sure to unplug the computer, monitor, coffee maker, toaster, blender, microwave, rechargeable toothbrush and gaming system before you unplug for vacation. Learn more about ‘energy vampires.

Turn off fans and lights

Making sure all fans and lights are turned off is a simple way to reduce your energy bill.

Put lights on timers

While turning off your lights saves the most energy, many people keep some lights on for security reasons while away. Install light timers to protect your home while taking the worry out of how much energy you’re using. For any lights you keep on or have on a timer, use LED bulbs for energy savings as well as safety. LED lights are made to run for extended periods without overheating, while incandescent lights can get hot and potentially start a fire when left on for extended periods.

Turn your electric water heater off or to vacation mode

Turn off your electric water heater at the breaker if you plan to leave home for a few days. A large amount of the cost of running a water heater is due to the standby losses, so this simple action can help conserve water and reduce energy costs since you won’t be needing hot water. Turning off your water heater can also help prevent unexpected malfunctions due to lack of use. If you don’t want to turn off your water heater, most come with a “Vacation Mode” setting on the temperature dial to adjust to an ideal energy-saving temperature. If your water heater doesn’t have a vacation mode, set it to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest setting available.

Keep the fridge at least half full

Did you know a fully stocked refrigerator keeps cold better than an empty one? Resist the urge to purge everything before you leave town – keeping your fridge and freezer full and tightly packed is more energy efficient as the items will help keep one another cold. Even if you fill them with full water bottles or ice trays, it’s more efficient than having little to nothing in them. Conserve even more energy by adjusting the thermostats on your refrigerator and freezer to higher settings: 38 degrees F for the refrigerator and 5 degrees F for the freezer. For trips lasting four weeks or more, consider emptying your refrigerator and unplugging it.

With these simple tips, you can enjoy a vacation and a smaller energy bill when you return home.