Vacations can take a lot of planning and logistics, and getting your house ready might not be the top of your to-do list. But many of our household appliances, both big and small, use energy even when we’re not home, and home energy costs can add up while you’re on vacation! Thankfully, there are small steps you can take to minimize energy use while still keeping your home safe and secure. So let’s go through some pre-vacation energy saving steps for your home!
The biggest energy expense in the average home is heating and cooling, accounting for about 50% of home energy expenses. When you’re on vacation, it’s important to set your thermostat to cut down on energy waste. After all, you won’t be home, so you can safely set your thermostat a little lower or higher than you normally would, depending on the season.
If you don’t already have one, a vacation can be a great reason to switch to a smart thermostat. Keeping an eye on household temperature remotely can give you peace of mind, and it’s the easiest way to maximize your energy savings. But even if you don’t have a smart thermostat yet, you can still set the temperature to save energy while away.
In the summer months, you may be tempted to turn off the AC entirely, but HVAC experts recommend against this because air conditioning addresses humidity as well as heat. In a humid, hot climate, leaving your house sealed with no AC can encourage mold growth in the home. Also, if your house gets too hot, your refrigerator and freezer will have to work harder to stay cold, which could cancel out some of your energy savings. A general rule of thumb for summer vacations is to set the maximum temperature 5-10°F higher than you normally would, no higher than 85°F.
In the winter months, there’s no need to heat your home fully while you’re on vacation. That said, you want to avoid your home getting too cold, especially in colder climates where there’s risk of pipes freezing. If outside temperatures won’t go below freezing, you can set your thermostat as low as 50°F. If your home is in a colder area, you’ll want to set it closer to 60°F to minimize the risk of pipes freezing.
Also, if you’re leaving pets at home while on vacation, make sure you keep them in mind when setting your thermostat! They’ll be comfortable with some adjustments to the temperature, but you definitely don’t want to put them in danger.
Heating water is the second biggest energy expense in most homes, accounting for about 18% of the average household’s energy usage. Most of us don’t really think about our water heater day to day, but they use a lot of energy to constantly keep the tank full of hot water. So if you’re leaving town for a while, turning down the temperature on your water heater can save a whole lot of energy and money!
A lot of water heaters have a “vacation mode” or “low” setting that will automatically turn down the temperature to about 50°F. Even better, if you have a smart water heater, you can adjust the settings remotely! This is also great for detecting problems or leaks while you’re on vacation.
If you’ve never used vacation mode on your water heater before, make sure you test it before you leave town. Unless you’re planning on turning off your water entirely, you don’t want the heater turning off entirely, as that can lead to frozen pipes (especially when your thermostat is turned down). Also, make sure that the temperature is set between 50-60°F. Harmful waterborne bacteria can grow between 68-113°F, so it’s important that the water in the heater isn’t sitting in this temperature “danger zone.”
A lot of our common household devices are “energy vampires,” meaning they continue to draw energy even when off or idle. This wasted energy is often called the “phantom load” and it consumes a lot more energy (and money) than you might expect. But if you’re leaving town, there’s a very easy solution: unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay on.
Small kitchen appliances, hair dryers, space heaters, home office equipment, and entertainment systems are common energy vampires, so unplug all of these before leaving town. And bonus, this reduces the risk of electrical fire!
Don’t forget that if you’re using any smart devices in your home, you’ll need to leave your WIFI router on for those devices to work properly.
No matter the season, make sure that you draw your curtains and double check that the windows are fully closed and locked. Curtains can help insulate against drafts in the winter and sun in the summer, and making sure windows are properly closed and sealed from drafts will help your HVAC system work more efficiently, whether it’s summer or winter.
It’s pretty intuitive for most of us to turn lights off when we leave the house, so be sure to do that! But for security or safety concerns, you may want to leave certain lights on both inside and outside the house. Rather than leaving lights on all the time, look into smart solutions! Smart bulbs and fixtures are easily controlled from your phone, and you can set schedules for when each bulb goes on and off throughout the day.
For exterior lights, consider setting porch lights to turn on for a few hours after sundown, or when motion is detected. For interior lighting, you can turn lights on in the evening to mimic someone being at home or to provide lighting for pets at home. But during daylight hours, you can set all lighting to be off to minimize excess energy usage. And as always, make sure you’ve updated to LED bulbs for energy efficiency.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your OhmConnect account, set it to “vacation mode.” Since your energy savings are calculated based on averages from the past 10 days, a two-week vacation away from home could greatly affect your calculated savings. So make sure to update your account for your vacation!
Here are instructions on how to do this:
To put your OhmConnect account in Vacation Mode, you will want to make sure that all of your event notifications are turned off and your devices are opted out. This will ensure you will not receive any events while you are away!
Head to your settings page on your OhmConnect dashboard, (the circle icon on the top right corner of your screen) and click the “Energy Events” banner. From there, unselect all notifications. Then, click on each of your devices, scroll to the bottom of the page and unselect the AutoOhm and OhmHour boxes, confirming that you would like to “Opt Out” your selected device. This will ensure your devices will not participate in energy saving events while you are away.