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Going on Vacation? Use These Tips to Conserve Energy While You’re Away

Summer vacations are undoubtedly fun — after all, it’s always nice to get out of your day-to-day Belvidere-area routine however briefly — but they’re usually expensive too. There are a number of energy-savings strategies you can implement in different areas of your home. Here are few effective ways you can conserve energy while on vacation.

Air Conditioning

You may be concerned that leaving the air conditioning running won’t help you conserve energy while on vacation, but you’re not really sure whether you should turn it off. If you’re planning just a weekend getaway, shutting if off is a smart way to reduce your cooling energy costs to zero.

If you’ll be away for a week or longer, it’s wiser to leave the A/C on but increase the temperature setting to about 85 degrees. Each single-degree temperature adjustment can curb the air conditioner’s energy consumption by two to three percent and help save you money. By maintaining a maximum temperature of 85 degrees, you’ll also prevent an excessive buildup of heat and humidity that can damage electronics, computers, furniture and structural components like drywall, wood floors and trim.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now’s the time to have one installed so you can use the built-in vacation mode to maintain a consistent temperature while you’re away. You can program in your usual temperature setting for the day you return so the house is comfortably cool when you arrive home.

Water Heating

If you want to conserve energy while on vacation, don’t forget to consider the water heater humming away in the basement or utility closet since it’s the home’s third biggest energy consumer. A large portion of that energy is used to maintain the temperature of water stored in the tank.

To curb unnecessary energy use while you’re away, shut it down just before you leave. If it’s an electric model, switch off the breaker in the main electrical panel. If it’s a gas-fired unit, put it in pilot-only mode or shut off the gas at the valve.

When you arrive home, let a hot water faucet run for a few minutes before you power up the water heater again. This eliminates the risk of running the water heater with an empty tank, which can ruin the appliance.

Appliances and Electronics

Many appliances and electronics consume energy even when they aren’t being used. This includes TVs, computers, cable boxes, game stations, the coffee pot and microwave, as well as smaller devices like digital clocks, cell phone chargers and electric razors. You can prevent this nonstop energy drain by unplugging all these items before you leave town. In addition to saving energy, pulling the plugs can also protect your devices from power surge damage and reduce the risk of electrical fires.

If you’ll be away for a week or more, you can  reduce energy consumption further by adjusting the refrigerator and freezer temperature dials to 42 degrees and 5 degrees, respectively. These temperatures are cold enough to protect your stored food while reducing your electric bill.

Lighting

It’s a wise idea to leave a few lights on while you’re on vacation to discourage burglars, but you can save energy and give would-be thieves the impression that the house is occupied by putting chosen lights on timers. Switching out old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (Cf Ls) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can save even more energy and decrease the air conditioner’s cooling load since they don’t produce as much heat.

Window Coverings

Your window coverings aren’t energy consumers, but you can use them to lower the air conditioner’s energy consumption while you’re gone. Just before you head out on vacation, close all the blinds and shades to keep the sunshine out and reduce heat gain that puts added strain on the A/C. You can keep using this strategy throughout the cooling season to save even more energy.

Learn more about how to conserve energy in your Belvidere home while you’re on vacation, as well as about Axberg’s HVAC solutions, or call (815) 873-6003.

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