The summer vacation you’ve been planning for months is almost here. But before you hop on the plane or in the car, take these steps to minimize your household’s energy use while you’re away:
- Use a smart thermostat and check the schedule. If you have a smart thermostat, set it to vacation mode so that it knows you’re away. This will override your normal daily schedule. “If you have a change in plans while on vacation, smart thermostats also allow you to make changes through your smart phone or tablet,” said Edith Garcia, Program Manager for Residential Energy Efficiency Programs and Services at UniSource Energy Services. “You can also program it to your preferred temperature on the day you return so that your home is comfortable when you arrive home.” If you have a standard thermostat, you can turn up the temperature setting to 85-90 degrees to reduce home cooling costs while you’re gone. Turning it up higher than 90 will make your refrigerator work harder and use more energy.
- Turn off ceiling fans. In the summer, it’s easy to forget that your ceiling fans are on. Do a walk-through of your home before you leave to make sure all of the fans are turned off.
- Turn off lights or use timers. Even if you’re using LED lights, you’ll want to turn off all lights before you leave the house. You can use timers to turn on a few lights in the evening for a couple of hours as a security measure to make it look like someone’s home.
- Unplug appliances or turn off smart power strips. Any electronic product with a power light should be turned off and unplugged. This includes big appliances, like your TV, as well as smaller ones like the DVD player, cable boxes, computer, printer, toaster and coffee maker. Plug several appliances into a smart power strip and turn off the strip to prevent phantom energy draw.
- Change pool pump and spa settings. If you have a pool, reduce the running time of your pool pump to save energy. If you have a spa, turn off the heater or reduce the temperature before you leave.
- Draw curtains and lower blinds. To block the sun and reduce radiant heat while you’re away, close drapes and curtains and lower blinds to reduce radiant heat and keep your home cooler.
- Keep your refrigerator full. A full refrigerator is more energy efficient than one that’s half empty. That’s because a full fridge keeps items cooler and uses less energy. You can fill up the extra space on shelves with jugs or pitchers of water.
“Wasted energy consumption while on vacation can add up,” Garcia said. “But you can prevent unnecessary energy costs with a few simple steps before you leave.”