Out of office message? Set. Luggage? Packed. Thermostat? Cranked. EEK!
If you’re like most British Columbians, your home works hard to keep you warm during the chilly winter and cool during the scorching summer months. While it’s bad manners to keep a vacation waiting, take a few minutes before you set off on your beach/tropical/European getaway (#blessed) to ensure your appliances get a break while you’re gone.
1. Air conditioning
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn the AC down.” Just like David Bowie sang (those are the lyrics, trust us), an easy way to reduce energy use and save money is by turning your air conditioning unit down, or better yet, completely off during your summer getaways.
During the hot summer months, there’s no sense wasting energy and money by cooling rooms when there is no one home to chill in them. If you’re getting out of town in the winter, your thermostat should be set around 10° Celsius in order to keep pipes and appliances from freezing. With a programmable or smart thermostat, you don’t need to worry about forgetting to adjust the temperature. Smart thermostats can be paired with your smartphone and controlled with an app. Depending on the model, you can even adjust the temperature in your house remotely from the road, plane or beach.
You can save energy while you’re away by adjusting the temperature to higher settings on your refrigerator by one or two degrees. Your food will stay cold and you’ll save money. A win-win!
If you’re heading on an extended vacation, consider cleaning your refrigerator out and turning it completely off. If you decide to go this route, be sure to leave the refrigerator door propped open and some baking soda inside, which will leave your fridge as refreshed as you after your holiday.
4. Blinds and curtains
While your blinds and curtains obviously aren’t consuming any energy, you can use them to keep the heat out during the summer and in during the winter. Be sure to close all blinds and shades to keep the sunshine out and reduce heat gain in your home during the summer. During the winter, closing shades and blinds will keep the cold air out.
5. Power vampires
Chargers and computers and printers, oh my! While the spooky season should be in October, phantom power usage is a scary thought year-round. Before leaving home, be sure to unplug all of your electronics, including TVs, DVD players and game consoles, as well as microwaves, coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc. If this sounds like a bit of a chore, try putting your electronics on smart power strips, which automatically shut down power to products that go into standby mode. This will save you the trouble of hunting your home for sneaky power vampires or contorting your body into a pretzel to grab hard-to-reach plugs. Unplugging and powering down can also reduce the risk of electrical fires and protect your items from potential power surge damage. Just like you, your electronics and appliances need to unplug and unwind.
6. Water heater
Reduce standby losses, which occur when no one is home to use the hot water, by setting your natural gas water heater to “low” or “vacation mode.” If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.
While you may be tempted to leave a few lights on at home while you’re out of town, this is a waste of energy and can be a dead giveaway that no one is actually at home. If you’re not comfortable turning off all the lights, set them up with automatic timers to deter potential intruders while saving energy.
Even when you’re not using your fireplace, your pilot light may still be drawing energy. If you have a natural gas fireplace, turning off the standing pilot light while you’re away can reduce between 600 and 1,500 BTU per hour, and reduce extra heat in your home. A licensed gas contractor can turn it on again during your annual appliance maintenance, so it’ll be safe and ready for fall. Of course during the winter, fireplaces should be turned off while you’re away, but the standing pilot light can be left on so that you can cosy up by the fire as soon as you return from your tropical trip.
Following these simple tips can help reduce your energy use, keep you safe and save you money (to put towards your next vacation, of course).
Take a few minutes to unplug, adjust and turn off your appliances, then kick back and enjoy!