3 Home Energy Saving Tips While On Vacation

Are you getting ready to hit the road and head out on vacation?  If so, you are probably knee-deep in to-do lists – and NOT thinking about saving energy!  🙂

In this post, I’ll give you a few easy home energy-saving tips you – or even your kids – can get done before you leave!


Home Energy Saving Tip #1:

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 money!) while you’re away on vacation?  It’s as easy as making sure 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 thing back a little.

An easy step is to take inventory of all the electronics you have plugged in in your home.  To make this super easy, download this FREE Outlet Inventory worksheet.

Use it to go from room to room and take a quick inventory of everything you have plugged into the outlets in your home and do a quick DIY home energy audit!

You can 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!

Once you know what’s plugged into your outlets you can unplug what you don’t need temporarily…or for good!

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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 that 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 had this!), a Wii game console, a cable box and a TV all plugged in with the power lights lit.  I couldn’t recall the last time my kids had even been in the basement!  The fact that it was a total wreck and you couldn’t see the floor was another story!

My fix – I plugged all of these into a power strip so that when we weren’t using these things (and/or we went on vacation) we could turn the power off to everything with just one switch.


Home Energy Saving Tip #2:

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.


Energy Saving Tip #3:

Lower the Temp

Another easy way to cut back on the amount of energy your home uses when you’re away is to lower the temperature on your hot water heater.

Why keep all that water hot when there is no one around to use it, right?

Simply turn your hot water heater down to it’s lowest setting.  Some even have a “vacation” mode setting.  Easy!

The hard part may be remembering to turn the temperature back up when you return.  It’s no fun stepping into a freezing cold shower!  :-0

How about setting an alarm on your phone for the day/time you are set to return home?


Energy Saving Tip #4:

Turn ‘Em Off

So this one seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how often you may forget it!

Be sure to turn off all the lights – except for maybe one – in your home.  Better yet, unplug them!

If you’re super cautious, get yourself a timer so that a few lights go on and off at regular times making it seem like you’re home.


One Last Tip – #5

Stop Delivery

I can’t help mention this one even though it’s not energy-related!  🙂

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!  🙂


Bon Voyage!

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!!