When I leave for vacation what should I do before I leave to save energy?

Asked by Adam Clayton
Bostwick, FL

Is it worth messing with my water heater, turning my A/C completely off, etc. ?


Lucas Johnson

Answered by Lucas Johnson

Seattle, WA

Cascadia Consulting Group

August 7, 2012

First of all, it is refreshing to hear someone is so conscious of energy consumption! I too want to feel fully relaxed while on vacation, and I have some impact-guilt associated with the "vampire loads" in my home.

The short answer is yes there are many things you can do, but you need to be careful in some cases. For instance, turning down your water heater to the lowest mode is a great idea. However, turning it fully off could potentially lead to some problems. 

  • If you live in a really cold climate, your pipes could freeze.
  • Or, if you don't know how to light the pilot (assuming a natural draft water heater), it can be a bit risky to re-light.
  • Same idea applies for central heating and A/C systems...don't turn them completely off, but set the thermostat so the system won't kick on.

Other ideas are unplugging the entertainment zone (TV, video games, etc.), computers, and internet. These items all tend to use a significant amount of electricity when plugged in, even if they are turned off.

If you get a daily newspaper, you could request they don't deliver while you're gone to limit the gas footprint of delivery.

Lastly, one thing I do for improved security, is use a timer switch to turn on one LED bulb (only uses 6 watts for the bulb) from dusk until dawn.

I'm sure our other green pro friends have some ideas, but I feel like I covered the main ideas applicable to most homes.


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