Are you getting ready to hit the road and head out on vacation? If so, you are probably knee deep in to-do and packing lists to prepare! You’re running through your mental check list of things to do before you leave and what to pack so everyone has a good time – and you don’t have to buy new bathing suits (or underwear!) on the trip! But how about conserving energy while you are away? Not to stress you out or add items to your list but is that on your to-do list? Not to worry, here are a few easy energy saving tips you can quickly get done and cross off that list!
Unplug To Save
According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2009 US homes on average used 34.6% of their total electricity on appliances, electronics and lighting. That’s a pretty big chunk – and one that is worth exploring! Why not take a few minutes to conserve energy (and save money!) while you’re away on vacation by ensuring that your appliances, electronics and lighting aren’t using energy as if you are home! I’m not talking about emptying the fridge and shutting down completely but there are ways you can dial things back a little.
An easy trick is to take inventory of all of the electronics you have plugged in. You could even get your kids to run around the house to do it for you – and give you a few minutes to focus on the packing! Did you know that many gadgets and appliances waste electricity just by being plugged in (even if they’re switched off)? It’s called vampire power. By itself your electric toothbrush may not be a big deal but the big picture is – in the United States alone, vampire power costs consumers more than $3 billion a year in electricity costs – and wastes valuable natural resources. So, before you head out simply do a mass unplugging of electronics and lighting to reduce the drain on natural resources. When you have a little more time to focus on wiping out vampire power you may want to consider a smart power strip which will cut down on crawling under and behind furniture to unplug things!
Just as an aside – when I did a review in my house I discovered in our basement a DVD player, a VCR (not even sure why we still have this!), a Wii game console, a cable box and a TV all plugged in with the power light lit yet I couldn’t recall the last time my kids had even been in the basement! (The fact that it is a total wreck and you can’t see the floor is another story!) My fix – I plugged all of these into a power strip so that when we aren’t using these things (and/or we go on vacation) we can turn the power off to everything with just one switch.
Adjust to Conserve
Another big energy user is heating and air conditioning for our homes. US homes on average use 41.5% of their total energy use on space heating and 6.2% on air conditioning (or 47.7%) to keep themselves comfortable…and safe (source USEIA, 2009). So, before you head out on vacation be sure to adjust your thermostat to conserve energy. For hot, summer months a setting of 76°F to 78°F while you are home is optimal but while away you can increase the setting 10-15°F or turn the AC off completely. (Don’t forget any pets that will be at home while you’re on vacation and be sure to maintain a safe thermostat setting for them!) If you have one of the newer remotely controlled thermostats you can set it to a comfy temperature before you arrive back home. I’m really hoping to be able to upgrade to a Nest thermostat however, right now we have this Honeywell programmable thermostat which is super easy to use although I did have an electrician install it for us.
Finally, if you still receive a traditional newspaper or other publication (vs. an online version) be sure to cancel delivery while you are away to cut down on the amount of paper you’ll need to recycle. And once you’ve gone a week or more without your paper it may be a good time to make the switch to an online version. It’s how I tricked my husband into it! 🙂
Now go have a great vacation! You should feel great that even while you aren’t at home you are doing your part to have a green home! And, you deserve a break after getting through that long to-do list to get you and your family out the door!!