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There’s already a lot of prep work that goes into taking a trip but adding in some “house prep” time can help you save money on your energy bill while you’re away. Here are five tips to consider before you walk out the door. 

  • Set your thermostat to vacation mode - If no one (including your pets) is staying home while you’re away, set the thermostat to a more moderate temperature than usual, but no lower than 60 degrees. While it may be tempting to lower the temperature even further, this puts your pipes at risk of freezing. Most smart thermostats have a “vacation mode” that will override your normal daily schedule. With a smart thermostat, you can also monitor your home’s temperature while you’re gone and set it to a comfortable temperature for the day you return. 

  • Unplug unnecessary appliances - Coffee makers, toasters, and other plugged-in appliances use energy even when they’re not in use. This sneaky energy waste is called “phantom load” and can account for up to 10% of your electric bill. Solve the problem by plugging your appliances into smart power strips that recognize when an appliance isn’t in use. If you’re not using smart power strips, be sure to unplug all electric appliances that have a power light. 

  • Water Heater Settings - Like a smart thermostat, your water heater has a setting on its temperature dial labeled vacation mode that decreases your water heater’s temperature and conserves energy. Water heating can account for around 20% of the energy consumed at home.                                                                                                                                                     
  • Set your water heater to 'vacation mode' if you’re going to be gone for an extended length of time. Some newer, energy-efficient water heater models have the option to program your return date, so your water is ready to use when you return. If it doesn’t, it should take less than an hour for your water to heat back up. Just be sure to leave a reminder to turn it back on whenever you get home. 
     
  • Close your blinds and/or curtains to block out the sun and reduce the amount of heat entering your home in the summer while you’re away. This step is equally important for insulating your home in the winter, too, and keeping it secure. 

Turning off the lights may seem obvious but be sure to turn off your lights and ceiling fans as well. Running either will only contribute to your electric bill and shouldn’t be necessary if you follow the steps above. If you like to leave lights on for added security, try plugging lamps into a timer to turn on for a few hours in the evening.