July 08, 2016
Summertime can often be best enjoyed at home – there’s nothing wrong with sticking around town and going to the local beaches, festivals, and fairs. Nonetheless, it’s still nice to just get away for a while.
If you are going away this summer for a week or more, then you should get serious about protecting your home against unnecessary energy loss while you’re away. There are a number of simple things you can do to ensure you aren’t spending money on your home when you aren’t using it.
1. The Water Heater
This essential appliance often gets overlooked in discussions about energy savings. Although this device sits in a less frequently visited part of the home, and therefore doesn’t get a lot of attention, your water heater still plays a big role in your energy savings.
Remembering to turn off your electric water heater before heading out on your vacation can amount to some valuable savings. Before you leave, make sure you turn off the circuit breaker to the electric water heater.
If you have a gas water heater, turn it down to "low" or to "vacation mode."
2. Lights, Lights, Lights
Automatic and motion sensor lights can be a big help when you’re home. They enable you to use the lights only when needed or when something trips them on. However, if you’re traveling, there isn’t much need for having the lights come on for an extended period of time each day. Instead, think about changing the timer to come on for just a little while in the evening, if you want to give people the impression that you’re home.
There is no harm in always making sure to double-check that all lights are off before leaving your home. It’s all too easy to rush out of the house and forget to turn off the kitchen or garage lights as you rush out. This can rack up quite a bill over a two week vacation.
3. Unload the Fridge
If you’re only going away for a few days, then it’s not worth draining and unplugging the fridge. However, if you are going away for a few weeks, then emptying out your refrigerator is a great way to save while you are gone. Do the following to set yourself up for success:
- Empty the refrigerator, including the freezer, of all food and beverages.
- Unplug the fridge and shut off the water supply.
- Turn off the ice maker, if your refrigerator has one. Check your appliance’s handbook for instructions for turning it off and cleaning it.
- If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, drain the reservoir. This is usually located behind the produce bins.
- Clean out the refrigerator thoroughly. This is a great opportunity to give it the scrub down you’ve been meaning to. Use a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with a quart of water to clean the interior with a cloth and be sure to wipe it dry. You can also leave a box of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer while you’re away, which will help draw in the moisture and prevent mold growth.
- Leave the doors open while you are gone for ventilation.
Unplugging your refrigerator can provide quite a bit of savings while you’re on vacation. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of turning off your refrigerator, simply increasing the temperature to a few degrees above 40° for the refrigerator and 5° for the freezer will keep things cold enough not to spoil, but also allow you to save a bit on energy consumption.
4. TV’s, Computers, Toasters, and More
These appliances can be “energy vampires,” meaning that they can consume energy that you are unaware of.
Be sure to unplug these smaller appliances when leaving for vacation. Advanced power strips also provide similar benefits and will save unneeded energy when you are away (and when you’re at home, too). If you aren’t utilizing advanced power strips throughout your home, be sure to unplug TVs, lamps, toasters, computers, and anything else that doesn’t absolutely need to be plugged in while you are away.
5. Central Air
When traveling in the summer, it’s typically best to turn off your heating and cooling system – this means shutting off the thermostat. Given New England’s summer temperatures, there is no risk of pipes freezing or weather damage that winter temperatures can often cause.
Instead, when you head out of town either set the thermostat for the average outside temperature (85ºF or higher) or shut it off completely. Another excellent way to save is through the use of programmable or wireless thermostats.
Programmable and wireless thermostats allow homeowners to choose what temperature they want the house to be at designated times. Wireless thermostats, also known as Wi-Fi thermostats, take convenience a step further by allowing users to set and change temperatures remotely through their smartphones, computers, and tablets. Rebates are available for up to $100 for wireless enabled thermostats and up to $25 for programmable thermostats.
Whether you are going away for two days or two weeks, it’s always good to consider what systems are not necessary to leave on in your home. The little things add up and you will be surprised at the amount of money that can be saved by following some of the simple tips above.
For more ways to save on energy this summer and throughout the year, read up on other Mass Saver articles to take advantage of all the savings available to you.