Taking a trip? You booked the tickets, bought a new outfit and told your friends. You packed sunscreen, your IDs, and some extra cash. There’s one more thing to do: Make sure your home stays green and energy efficient while you’re gone.
Here are a few tips to help maintain your eco-friendly home, live a more sustainable lifestyle and keep costs low when you’re away.
You checked your destination, but what about at home? Is it going to be blazing hot or a little cloudy while you’re out? Decide the highest temperature you’re comfortable with so it won’t be stuffy when you get home — about a 5° difference usually does the trick. And don’t forget to close the blinds and pull the shades. All that extra light can heat up your place when you’re not there.
The best way to lower your impact on the planet and save on energy costs is to not use energy at all. You don’t need to unplug your oven, but many electronics use “phantom energy.” They quietly use power even as they sit idle. TVs, air fresheners, alarm clocks — every little bit makes a difference. Even a small appliance like a printer passively uses electricity while it’s plugged in. Try using surge protectors or power strips to make turning everything on and off a breeze.
Smart technology apps and electrical timers can come in handy when you’re away. If you’re worried about your plants getting proper hydration, or if there’s a pet keeping watch at home (or napping all day), create presets to keep them cool during the day and cozy at night. Check out smart thermostats and pre-programmed lights, too. As a safety precaution, you can also set a timer to turn on a few lights when you’re out, so it looks like someone’s at home.
Many of us clean out our refrigerators before we leave town. According to our cool friend science, refrigerators are more efficient when there are more items on the shelf, since cold items help keep other items cold. You can save a little on your bill and help the planet by letting your appliances work for you. If you have liquids or water that’ll keep until you get back home, feel free to leave them on the shelves so your fridge won’t have to work as hard while you’re gone.
This is a more advanced tip, since most of us don’t touch the water heater unless there’s a problem with it. It's a huge appliance that uses a lot of energy to keep hot water ready for washing dishes and showering. But since you won't need hot water while you're gone, why not adjust the water heater for energy efficiency? Many water heater models have a vacation mode, but you can also turn it down manually. Once you return, make sure to follow the Energy.gov recommendations for powering up your water heater when you get home.
Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so no energy tip will be one-size-fits-all. Do what works best for your home, so you can kick back, relax and enjoy your vacation, all while knowing your home is on an energy-efficient staycation.
You can do your part to protect the environment with a 100% clean electricity plan.
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