It's March Break — your bags are packed, the kids are in the car, and you've triple-checked that the door is locked. You're all set to get away from home for a week of relaxation and quality time with your family, but is your home ready to help you save money (and energy) while you're away?
You may have made sure all the lights are turned off. Perhaps you've powered down your computer in preparation for some time away from work. But did you know there is quite a bit more you can do to maximize your electrical savings while on vacation? It's true! And most of it only takes a minute to do.
Here are four tips that can help you save on your electricity bill at home while on vacation.
One of the simplest ways to save electricity at home while on vacation is to get strategic with your thermostat temperature. When your home's indoor temperature is closer to the temperature outside, it has less work to do heating and cooling your house.
Of course, this may not be an option if you've got pets at home. But if your home's left empty, it's a simple way to save, and all you have to do is turn a dial! In fact, turning your thermostat up (if the temperature outside is warmer) or down (if the temperature outside is cooler) between 7-10° F can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 10%.
Plus, if you've got a smart thermostat, you'll have the added convenience of controlling the temperature right from your phone, which means you can quickly turn your home's temperature back to normal before you return. Haven't made the move to a smart thermostat yet? We recommend the Google Nest Thermostat or ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat to get started. Here’s a quick crash course with everything you need to know!
Once you've set your home's thermostat, the next way to save on your electrical bill while on vacation is to unplug the 'energy vampires' that are unnecessarily stealing electricity in your absence.
'Energy vampires' are devices and appliances that continue using electricity, even when turned off. This is also known as using standby power, and phone chargers are a big culprit! In fact, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that in the U.S. alone, vampire energy-use accounts for $19 billion annually in energy spending — that's $165 per household or 50 large power plants worth! Of course, some devices are bigger 'energy vampires' than others, so it's helpful to begin by narrowing down which devices you should start unplugging first to reap the most significant savings.
Here are three 'energy vampires' you should watch for when heading out on vacation:
Televisions can be one of the biggest draws for standby power while on vacation. From wi-fi connections, add-on smart TV features, and continuous communication with your cable box, often your TV will continue to draw substantial electricity, even when powered down.
Consider unplugging your TV and cable box completely to reduce wasteful electricity use if you're headed out on vacation. Of course, the same goes for your computer too!
Coffee machines and other kitchen appliances, like toasters and microwaves, can also be major offenders for unnecessary electrical waste.
These appliances may not use the most electricity when left idle, but combined, they can make a notable impact on energy consumption. Consider doing a quick run-through of your kitchen and unplugging any lingering appliances before you depart!
Unless you're planning on leaving home for months at a time, unplugging your fridge is unlikely to be an option. But there is a way you can save energy without compromising on your fridge's operations — use a smart plug!
Refrigerators and freezers can be turned off for up to four hours each day without fear that food will spoil, and smart plugs allow you to control power outlets remotely with the touch of a button. Consider setting up a smart plug with a timer to disconnect your fridge for a few hours each day (ideally, during peak hours when electricity is most expensive) as a simple way to reduce wasteful energy use when on vacation. Bonus points if you adopt the habit when you're back home too!
Did you know that your water heater is one of the biggest energy expenses in your home? It may seem surprising, but water heating accounts for an average of 18% of a home's monthly utility bill!
Like your home's 'energy vampire' appliances, your hot water heater uses much of its energy simply by operating in standby mode, ensuring that hot water is ready for you at a moment's notice. But when you're away from home, there's no need for a constant hot water supply, so turning it off is one of the simplest and most beneficial ways to save on your electrical bill while on vacation.
Remember though, most hot water heaters take 1-2 hours to reheat fully. So set a reminder to turn it back on when you get home to avoid a cold shower surprise!
You've unplugged your wasteful devices, turned off your hot water heater and adjusted your thermostat to maximize efficiency while away. Still, we've got one final (and easy) tip for you to try before you head out the door. Close your curtains!
No matter the season, closing your blinds is a simple way to help your home maintain its internal temperature and avoid wasting electricity. During the summer months, it shuts out additional sunlight that can make your home warmer, and in the winter, your curtains act as an added layer of insulation, keeping heat in and preventing your furnace from having to work overtime. It only takes a moment, but it can do wonders in helping your home operate efficiently while you're gone!
OhmConnect is a free service that rewards you for your energy-saving efforts. As a member, you'll be alerted to times when electricity is most expensive in your neighborhood, arming you with the knowledge you need to know when to power down and save.
By unplugging and doing your part, you'll earn points and be entered to win weekly prizes like gift cards, smart appliances and more! Plus, OhmConnect will sell the electricity you save back to the grid, sharing those profits with YOU! That's money directly back into your pocket — win! Not a member yet? Click here to get started.