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For many of us, spring break is fast approaching; while you’re away enjoying a well-deserved vacation, plan to be energy-efficient at home.

It’s easy to save a few dollars when you’re on vacation. The best part is that it doesn’t take much time.  Just before you head out:

  • Turn your thermostat up. As long as a higher temperature won’t affect any pets at home, turn the thermostat up at least ten degrees. 
  • Close the curtains and blinds to keep the sun from heating your home. This also helps keep anyone from looking in and seeing that nobody’s home.
  • Turn your water heater down.  Turn it down as low as you can; there’s no sense in keeping water hot that will never get used.  Turn it back up as soon as you get home and it’ll be ready in a few hours. Write yourself a note so you don’t get a chilly reminder when you get in the shower.
  • Turn off all the lights in the house.  If you prefer to leave a light on for security, attach it to a timer so that it is only on a few hours a day. If you don’t have any installed, this would be a good time to put in a LED or CFL bulb to save even more electricity.
  • Unplug everything electronic including the television, DVD player, stereo, and computer.  Walk around your home and look for anything that has a little light on it and you’ll be surprised how many things are using electricity. These all use standby power and are known as “energy vampires,” using up to 10% of your home’s energy when they aren’t even on.  Unplug them when you’re gone for any length of time.  Check the garage as well for these appliances.

If you have a few extra minutes after you do all of this, read your electric meter before you leave and make a note of your current kilowatt hours.  When you return, remember to check again and notice the difference.  If it’s more than you would have expected while you were away, you may have more energy vampires than you thought. 

You can do the same with the water meter.  Any movement of the meter while you are gone can indicate a leak that should be looked at by a plumber.

These energy-saving tips can be used any time you go on vacation or a trip. It’s good to give your cooling system and water heater a vacation as well as your wallet.

March 4, 2013