Photo by Clint Patterson via Unsplash

It sounds like a great idea — turn off your electricity entirely when you go on vacation and you’ll dramatically slash your electric bills. While this works in theory, there are some considerations that make shutting everything down problematic for homeowners. Learning more about your options allows you to conserve energy wisely, without running into problems when you get home. Here’s what you need to know about conserving power when you travel.

What to turn off — and what to leave on when you travel:

  • HVAC System: One of the top consumers of energy in your home, reducing HVAC use while you are away will save you money. According to Duke Energy any savings you get from turning your HVAC off entirely could be reversed when you get home and have to power your entire system back up again. It will have to work extra hard to get your whole home back to a comfortable temperature. Instead of turning this off, set your system to vacation mode (most programmable thermostats have one) or to a temperature that makes your HVAC work less. You won’t be home, so it does not have to be crisp and cool– setting your thermostat to 80 can help you save money and not require an energy-consuming reboot when you get home. 
  • Hot water heater: You don’t need to heat water while you are not home. Turn the temperature down or turn the unit off entirely at the fusebox, then simply turn back on or up when you get home. 
  • Fridge and Freezer: If you have any food stored at all (and most of us do) these need to stay on. If either component is empty or contains items that won’t go bad (like bottled water or beverages) you can turn that component to a warmer setting to save while you are away. 
  • Water: Turning the water off can help conserve power and more importantly, prevent flooding. 
  • Electronics: If it plugs in, it consumes power, whether you are using it or not. Unplug electronics like the TV, kitchen helpers and more to cut your costs while you are away. 
  • Lights: A totally dark house lets would-be burglars know you are not home. Unplug most lamps, but leave a few on timers to boost your home security as you save. 

Learning which components of your home are essential for security and comfort — and which can be turned off entirely — allows you to cut your costs while you are not home. Once you return home from your vacation, you can get things going again quickly and without much downtime. 

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