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It’s the time of year when many of us will be traveling to the homes of loved ones or friends for a holiday visit. It’s important that when you’re preparing your suitcases, you’re also making a to-do list to keep your home safe and energy-efficient while you’re gone. 

  • Turn your thermostat up. As long as a higher temperature won’t affect any pets at home, turn the thermostat up a few degrees. The higher temperature won’t affect your belongings, as long as you remember that the air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier. That’s why it’s essential to only go a few degrees up. If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure it’s set to one temperature instead of the usual daily variations in temperature.• Make sure your windows are not only closed, but locked as well.  This helps prevent any drafts from coming in that you won’t notice because you’re gone.
  • Close the curtains and blinds to keep warm air and heat from the sun outside. This also gives you the added security of making it difficult to tell that no one is home when the lights aren’t on.
  • If you have a tank-style water heater, turn your water heater down. There is no sense in keeping water heated that will not be used for several days. Every degree helps conserve energy while you’re gone.  Write yourself a note to remind you to turn it back up as soon as you get home and it’ll be ready in a few hours.
  • Turn off all the lights in the house.  If you prefer the security of having a light on, attach one light to a timer so that it is only on during the evening hours. Of course, if you closed all of your curtains and blinds, this step isn’t necessary.
  • Unplug everything electronic including the television, DVD player, and computer.  Look around your home for things with a standby light that indicates the device is using electricity even when it isn’t on. These are known as “energy vampires,” and they use up to 10% of your home’s energy consumption.  Unplug them when you’re gone for more than two days, unless they’re absolutely necessary.  Check the garage as well for these appliances. Unplugging electronics also prevents damage if there is a power surge while you are away.

This holiday season, a few minutes of preparation will allow you to check “home” off your to-do list.

November 27, 2013