5 Ways to Save Energy When You’re Away
After being cooped up all spring, are you and the family making plans to get out of town for a few days? Before you leave, be sure you’ve prepped your home to save energy while you’re gone.
Consumers often mistakenly think that an unoccupied home will automatically reduce their energy bill. In fact, a home's electrical devices are consuming energy all the time, whether the house is occupied or not. To lower your power bill, you’ll need to give your appliances and devices some time off too.
Come home to a lower energy bill by making
a few simple adjustments before you leave.
After you pack your bags, follow this simple checklist developed by Walton EMC. Making a few simple adjustments before you leave will allow you to come home to a lower energy bill.
EMPTY HOME ENERGY CHECKLIST
- Adjust the thermostat.
There’s no sense cooling your home when you’re not there. To save energy dollars, set your thermostat at a higher temperature than normal. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your air conditioning system thermostat at 85 degrees. Each single-degree temperature adjustment can curb the air conditioner’s energy consumption by and help save you money. By maintaining a maximum temperature of 85 degrees, you’ll also prevent an excessive buildup of heat and humidity that can damage electronics, computers, furniture and structural components like drywall, wood floors and trim.
Walton EMC tip: If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, think about installing one as part of your vacation planning. Then, you can use the built-in vacation mode to maintain a consistent temperature while you’re away. Most Wi-Fi models have settings for extended home absences as well as convenient control from your smartphone, so you won’t have to worry about wasting energy while you’re away — or coming home to a hot house. LEARN MORE: Get Smart for a Carefree Vacation (https://www.waltonemc.com/index.php/blog/2019/06/get-smart-for-a-carefree-vacation)
- Close the blinds and curtains.
Your window coverings aren’t energy consumers, but you can use them to lower the air conditioner’s energy consumption while you’re gone. Windows let in light, which creates excess heat and increases strain on the AC.
Walton EMC tip: Keeping window coverings closed throughout high temperature months can help you save even more energy. Covered windows can also improve home security when you’re away.
- Set a timer.
Install timers on indoor and outdoor lights and set them to turn the lights on for a few hours each night. This will conserve energy and provide added security by creating the illusion that someone is home.
Walton EMC tip: Switching out old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can save even more energy and decrease the air conditioner’s cooling load since they don’t produce as much heat. LEARN MORE: See Summer In A Whole New Light (https://www.waltonemc.com/index.php/blog/2018/05/see-summer-in-a-whole-new-energy-efficient-light)
- Pull the plug.
Enlist the kids’ help to identify and unplug the “energy vampires” in your home. Energy vampires are electronic appliances that use energy even when they are turned off. Even though each draws only a small amount of power, the average American home has 20–40 vampire devices, so the energy use adds up. Pulling the plugs can also protect your devices from power surge damage and reduce the risk of electrical fires.
Before locking up, walk around the house and unplug these electric devices that constantly draw power:
- Electronics with external power supplies or “power bricks” such as laptops, video game consoles and any type of charger, whether for a smartphone or an electric toothbrush.
- Electronics with “instant on” or “sleep” modes, including desktop PCs, televisions, surround sound systems, cable boxes and anything with a remote control. Any device with LED lights glowing when it’s off is draining small amounts of power.
- Modems and routers. Unplugging them saves energy and can prevent having your Wi-Fi hacked while you’re gone.
- Small appliances like toasters, blenders, rice cookers, coffee machines, food processors, microwaves, etc. Anything with a clock is a culprit.
- New washers and dryers. Models with lights and digital timers drain power while they’re “off”.
Walton EMC tip: Cut standby power by using power strips and turning them off when electronics and appliances are not in use. Also, use ENERGY STAR products, which use less standby power.
- Turn off the water heater.
A water heater's usage can represent up to 25 percent of a home's energy bill. The unit’s heating elements will consume electricity to keep the water in the tank hot whether the home is occupied or not. To save on water heating while you’re away, turn off the water heater at the circuit breaker panel. Upon returning, flip the same breaker back on.
Walton EMC trip: When you return home, allow the water heater to run for at least an hour before you shower or do laundry.
These five simple steps will reduce the energy your home uses while you’re away and may help keep a few dollars in your pocket for next year’s vacation fund. Savings will vary depending on the number of days your home is unoccupied, energy-saving tips implemented, home size, HVAC system efficiency and insulation level.