Very few people consider their utility bill when on vacation. But, should you? There is a misperception that while you're away from home, your utility bill should drop dramatically.
At first, this makes sense since you're not there to watch TV, use the computer, do laundry, etc. But, other big users of electricity aren't going on vacation with you. Check out these tips before your next trip:
- Turn up the thermostat – Since you're not there to enjoy the air conditioning, adjust your thermostat accordingly. In the summer, we recommend a setting of 78 degrees. While you're away, consider bumping your thermostat up to 80 degrees or more. Each degree above 78 will save about 10 percent on your cooling costs. This is good news, because cooling your home accounts for about 50 percent of your bill each month!
- Turn off ceiling fans, close the drapes – Ceiling fans don't actually cool your home, they only circulate air to make you feel cooler. Therefore, they are most effective when you're home to enjoy their benefits. So, turn them off when you're not home and save some energy. Also, closing your drapes or blinds will keep the hot sun out and cause your air conditioner to run less.
- Manage your water heater – Unless your cats are taking secret baths while you're out of town, you may want to consider turning off the water heater at the circuit breaker; if you have a natural gas water heater, use the "vacation" mode. Just remember to run the hot water from a sink before turning the water heater back on to ensure the tank is not empty.
- Unplug electronics – Even though your TV and other appliances are turned off, the ones with the little standby light are still drawing electricity. Unplug any unnecessary appliances until you return home.
- Use light timers, motion detectors – Many people like to leave a light on to indicate someone is home. Use a light timer instead; this also gives a more realistic impression of someone being at home. And, rather than leave your porch light on the entire time you're gone, install a motion detector.