Energy experts: Ways to save when you're away

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Summer vacation season is here and so are hotter temperatures, but if you find yourself cranking up the air conditioning, energy experts say there's something you should do before you head out of town.

Officials with SCE&G say this is the time of year that customers ask why their power bill wasn't lower when they were away for a week or two on vacation. But they add it's often what consumers don't do before they leave that makes the difference.

First SCE&G analysts say turn your thermostat up five or six degrees from where you normally keep it. They say it will cost less to cool your home down when you get back then it will to keep the air running while you're gone. Energy experts suggest keeping your thermostat on 78 degrees when you're home in the summer and at 82 or 83 degrees when you're away.

SCE&G officials say cooling your home accounts for about half of your energy bill. They say coming in at a close second is your water heater. Energy experts suggest putting your electric water heater on a timer or switching off the breaker when you're away. For gas water heaters they suggest putting it on vacation mode.

While they aren't huge energy users, experts say be sure to unplug smaller appliances and electronics, including phone chargers. "They don't comprise a lot of your bill each month but every little bit helps," said Gretchen Pool, a SCE&G Analyst. "That's why we encourage people to unplug those power strips when they're not in use, especially the cell phones. That's one thing we find with a lot of customers they just unplug the cell phone and go."

Pool says be sure to turn off lights and fans, as well. She says fans don't make your home cooler, they only help you feel cooler when you're in the room.

She adds it's also a good idea to have the insulation checked in your attic, because poor insulation can cost you in more than just the winter months. "It's more something that we should think about year-round because it's keeping that conditioned air that you're paying for in your house, instead of it escaping into the attic and out of the house," said Pool.

SCE&G says the amount of money a customer can save varies on the size of a home and the normal power usage, but they say putting these tips into practice should help.