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Going on Vacation? Save Money on Energy Costs While You’re Gone

Taking a vacation can be costly, so a great way to save some money is to give your electric bills a break, too. There are several things you can do to reduce electricity use but still keep your home running efficiently while you’re away:

  • Unplug some of your household appliances – your house has many items that always use electricity when they’re plugged in, even when turned off or not in use. Unplugging these items not only saves energy, but in some cases, can avoid possible fire hazards during your absence. Some of the more common items include television sets, DVD players, other home entertainment components, computers, microwave ovens and toasters.
  • Adjust the refrigerator control to a warmer setting – the fridge can be as high as 40° F (although 38° is recommended) without spoiling food; the freezer can reach 5° F. (To be safe, check all food when you return home. Who wants chunky milk or limp vegetables? Better yet, clean out your fridge before you leave.) If you are going on a long trip, shut off your icemaker or consider emptying the fridge and turning it off (remember to leave the door open to prevent mildew).
  • Set the thermostat higher or lower than the typical comfort level – if it’s furnace weather you should consider lowering your thermostat, but to no lower than 55° F. Typically, by doing this, you can save 10 to 30% on your heating costs. You can shut the air conditioner off during your absence, or at least consider setting it to a higher than normal temperature, such as 80° F. Or, if you have a smart thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature setting remotely.
  • Turn down the water heater – a large percentage of the cost of running a water heater comes from just keeping the water at the selected temperature. If you are going on a lengthy trip, turn down the water heater’s temperature to the lowest setting.
  • Consider using timers to turn lights on and off each night – timers can save energy and give more of an appearance that someone is home. If you have smart lighting, you can control your home’s lighting via your cell phone. Vacation or not, consider using LEDs for inside and outside lights that will be on the longest. An ENERGY STAR-certified LED light bulb uses about 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also last at least 15 to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs and save about $80 in electricity costs (per bulb) over their lifetime, according to energystar.gov.

Once your home is set up to save on energy costs while you’re gone, enjoy that vacation! For more information, visit SafeElectricity.org.