Will you be getting away from the daily grind this summer? Before you jump in the car for a road trip or board a plane to a faraway destination, Do Your Part at home to conserve energy and money while you’re away. Here is my checklist for going green — before you go.
(1) Turn Down The Water Heater
One of the easiest ways to save energy while you’re away is to turn down your water heater. For gas water heaters, simply turn the dial to the lowest setting but don’t turn it off. Some water heaters make it even simpler by having “vacation” and/or “pilot” modes. For those with electric water heaters, flip its corresponding circuit breaker off before you leave. Just remember to reset the water heater when you return as it could take several hours to produce hot water.
(2) Adjust The Air Conditioning
There’s no need to have the air conditioner running when no one is there to enjoy it. However, turning it all the way off could harm your houseplants and force your refrigerator to work overtime. Consider leaving your AC set to around 85 degrees while you’re gone.
(3) Unplug Electronics
Most of our electronics sip energy even when they are not being used. This phantom power accounts for about 10 percent of the energy we use at home. While you’re on vacation, unplug many of your electronic devices. Those will include everything from televisions, computers, kitchen appliances, electric toothbrushes, and any charging cord.
(4) Put Lights On A Timer
Putting a few lights on a timer is a smart idea. It will cut down on your lighting costs and it will also make it look like someone is home. You’ll want to be careful about which bulbs you put in which timer. For instance, certain digital ones are not designed to work with CFL bulbs and can actually create a fire hazard. Make sure to read directions that come with the timer and the particular bulb you plan to use with it.
(5) Refrigerator Reminders
Our refrigerators take an enormous amount of electricity to run. If you are planning to be gone for a while, empty it out and unplug it. Don’t forget to disconnect the water supply to it. However, if you’ll only be away a matter of days, you can easily turn up the temperature setting a few degrees since no one will be opening and closing the refrigerator’s doors.
Going away on vacation is a good way to find out exactly how much energy your home uses — even when you’re not there. Read the meter when you leave and again when you return home. That way can Do Your Part to see which energy efficiency methods worked best and if you should do more the next time you’re able to get away from it all.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at DoYourPart.com.