While you're away
Tips to save energy (and money) while you're away
Your house can use all sorts of energy, even if you are not there to turn appliances on and off. Many devices need to be unplugged or turned off at the breaker box to keep them from using energy.
- The water heater uses energy even when you are not using hot water. It uses a lot of energy (up to about $6 per month) just keeping the water in the tank hot. Turn off an electric water heater at the breaker box or set a gas water heater to “pilot” if you are going to be gone for more than three days. You'll need a few hours to heat the water when you return.
- Some kitchens have “instant” hot water taps at the sinks. These devices include a small hot water reservoir under the sink and usually draw a constant 20 watts. Unplug them and save about 50 cents if you are gone two weeks.
- Unplug your waterbed heater, or lower the thermostat to 70 degrees when away from home seven days or more. Like water heaters, waterbeds will take time to warm up.
- For security and energy conservation, install photocells or timers for lights. Photocells will turn the lights on at dusk and turn them off at dawn. Timers will turn the lights on and off at times you choose.
- The refrigerator is usually the largest user of energy in an unoccupied home, but it is not practical to unload, defrost and unplug it if you are only away for a week or two. If you leave your refrigerator on, remove perishable food, set it to a warmer temperature and fill it with gallon jugs of water. This will reduce temperature fluctuations and save energy.
- Don't forget to unplug the TV, computer, monitor and printer, and any of those “black cube” voltage transformers for rechargeable and multi-voltage appliances. Any device with an “instant-on” feature or a cordless remote control uses energy even when it is turned off.
- If you're leaving your home during the winter, lower your heating thermostat to 50 degrees. At settings lower than 50 degrees you run an increased risk of frozen pipes in cold weather.
- The only way to know for sure that an appliance is not drawing energy is to turn off the power supply by unplugging it or turning off the breaker. You'll have to weigh the inconvenience of “re-starting” your household when you get home against the potential energy savings.