My Energy Journey – Week 6
By Mary Ripley on August 17, 2017
It’s time for a vacation!
TO UNPLUG OR NOT: WHAT TO DO AROUND THE HOUSE BEFORE A SUMMER VACATION
If you’re going on vacation, why not give your home energy consumption a holiday too? Include de-energizing your home as part of your packing process, and your end-of-vacation blues won’t have to include an unnecessarily large energy bill.
Let things heat up at home. Your furniture doesn’t mind if your home gets a little stuffy – or even stifling. If you have central air conditioning, raise your thermostat higher than usual before you leave. If your thermostat is programmable, be sure to set it to remain steady at that higher temperature for the duration of your trip.
Give your water heater a time out. Your home’s water heater constantly consumes power to keep 50 or more gallons of water at hot-shower temperature at all times. This makes it a huge energy draw (between 15 and 25 percent of your bill). There is no reason to keep it going while you are away.
If you have a gas water heater, switch it to “pilot” setting. Turn electric water heaters off at the breaker switch. The savings will be significant! If you don’t want to cut the heater’s power completely, turn it down to the lowest temperature setting. Turn it back on (or the temperature up) about 45 minutes before you will need hot water.
Don’t buy into the myth that it takes too much energy to heat the water back up after it has cooled down. The savings that comes from not keeping a tank full of water hot for 48 hours or longer is more than enough to offset the energy consumed by bringing it back up to temperature.
Shut off the electricity spigot. Unplug all appliances and electronics when you are away. Some energy drains are obvious: lamps, toasters, coffee pots and hair dryers. But don’t forget the stove, washing machine and clothes dryer. Computers, televisions, entertainment centers and other electronics with remote controls, digital displays or instant “on” features draw power even when they are switched “off.”
You might want to put a few overhead lights on timers or motion sensors and have them turn on few hours every day you are away. No one needs to know you aren’t home.
Snuff the source flame. If you have a gas stove or fireplace, kill the pilot lights while you are away (be sure you know how to reignite them when you get home). They can cost as much as $2 a month to keep burning.
Put your refrigerator on furlough. Refrigerator and freezers are some of the greediest energy consumers in your home. Take this opportunity to put them on an electricity diet. If you are going to be away a week or longer, clean out your fridge, and turn the temperature down to its lowest setting (or the highest temperature) before you leave.
If you really want to see a difference in your energy bill, empty the refrigerator and freezer entirely, clean and dry them out, prop the doors open to keep out mildew and put an open box of baking soda in each section. Unplug them and wait for the savings to roll in!