Did you know you can save money on your energy bills while you’re on vacation? Spring break is comin’ right up! Some simple adjustments can save you quite a bit of money on your next utility bill while you’re sippin’ on Mai Tais at the beach. How does it get any better than that?! Here’s how:
First, consider the pets you have at home if you have any. Pets need fresh air just like we do and are susceptible to heat-related illness, so you need to be mindful of their wellbeing while you’re gone. It’s OK to leave the thermostat up to 80 degrees if you have pets at home while you’re gone. To help your house stay cool during the day, close the shades of any sun-facing windows. If there will be no pets in your home while you’re gone, you can set the thermostat even higher but be aware that you still shouldn’t turn it off completely. Airflow (especially in the middle of summer) is important. Hot, stagnant air can turn your home into a sauna potentially causing serious damage to drywall, sheetrock, wallpaper and even wood. This can also cause damage to your home’s artwork, houseplants, and other household items. Remember, if it’s 90 degrees outside, the inside of your home can reach triple digits easily within a week. A good rule of thumb is to set the thermostat to 85 degrees. If you live in a more humid climate, set the temperature to 82-83 degrees so there is a bit more airflow.
If you are taking a trip in cooler months such as late fall or winter, follow the same basic principles. If you have pets, your home will need to be kept warmer at around 65 degrees. If you don’t have any pets, the temperature can be set to as low as 50 degrees. You just want to avoid frozen water pipes when outside temperatures are extremely cold.
Don’t forget about your water heater! You can turn your water heater down to “vacation mode.” Water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in your home and a large percentage of the cost of running a water heater is due to the “standby” losses. Sounds like you’re not the only one that’s going into “vacation mode”!
Consider investing in a programmable or smart thermostat. Some, but not all programmable thermostats will allow you to program a lower temperature for a specific date in the future. A smart thermostat connects to your home Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control it from anywhere using your smartphone. Smart thermostat apps also provide the most user-friendly interface for programming your heating and cooling schedule.
Your refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. Conserve energy by adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature on your refrigerator and freezer. Make sure you eat all the foods that need to be kept at certain temperatures before you do this! For extended trips lasting weeks or months, empty your fridge and unplug.