Following energy-saving tips before vacation ensures you won’t come home to a higher bill.
Category: Smart Energy Tips

Set your home to vacay mode

Q: How can I lower my electric bill when I’m gone on vacation?

A: While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation, too. Doing so can reduce unnecessary energy waste and unneeded wear and tear on your heating and cooling system, appliances and more. Here’s how to set your home to vacay mode:

Adjust your thermostat

Your heating and cooling system keeps you comfortable. If you aren’t there, it doesn’t need to be quite so comfortable in your home. Setting the thermostat closer to the outdoor temperature can save you energy and money. I don’t recommend completely turning off the heating or cooling system. In extreme heat, your cooling system also helps to protect your home from damage.

As a rule, you can typically set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home.

Installing a smart thermostat gives you the ability to control your settings remotely from your smart phone. This allows you to adjust the temperature after you leave home and right before you return.

Lower the setting

Most water heaters include a vacation mode setting. This setting drops the temperature to reduce wasted energy when you’re away. A storage water heater is like an insulated tea kettle, standing by and ready for you to have hot water whenever you need it. Give that water heater a vacation, too. Leave yourself a note with a reminder to turn it back on when you get home, so you don’t wind up with a disappointing shower before the first day back at work.

Keep the heat out

Closing the curtains can provide two benefits. It can keep heat from the sun at bay. This reduces the load on your heating and cooling system, which saves energy. It also has the benefit of blocking visibility into your home when you’re away.

More ways to save

Set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature

For security, some people use timers or leave on exterior lights. Make sure any lights left on are LEDs, instead of incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs use less energy and have less impact on your electric use when left on all night. You can also consider adding smart LEDs to your home that can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone.

Before you leave, walk through your home and unplug devices and small appliances. Make sure gaming consoles and computers are fully powered down. Unplugging any devices that have lights, clocks or use standby mode can also reduce wasted energy.

Having peace of mind that your home is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. After all, we all need an occasional break.

Miranda Boutelle writes on energy-efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing nearly 900 electric co-ops.