Unplug before vacations to save energy

May 16, 2011|By Liz F. Kay

You might look forward to a vacation as a chance to unplug, but Consumer Reports recommends you take that advice literally.

There are money-saving errands you might complete before leaving your home for a trip, such as eating up perishable groceries and putting vacation stops on your newspapers and mail. But don't neglect to unplug your idle appliances and turn down your water heater.

You might remember this from previous discussions of 'vampire power', but electric-powered DVD players and battery chargers will all draw a constant amount of power even when you're not home. Televisions and other remote-controled devices sap tiny amounts of electricity on a regular basis as they await your command. So, to cut back on costs, you can unplug items before you go.

Some people set timers on lamps to deter break-ins. Always choose a light source with a CFL, which will use less energy while scaring away burglars.

Here's another tip from a Missouri electric cooperative: an empty refrigerator takes more energy to keep cool than a full one, so before you head out consider stacking it with covered food storage containers that will retain cool air. Definitely turn off your icemaker if you have one, recommends the Edision Electric Institute.

Turning down your water heater is also a good tip if you're going to be away for a few days. These devices are basically a giant kettle that keeps a constant supply of hot water ready for you whenever you turn on the tap. That's service that you will not need while visiting relatives or touring other countries. You could also turn it completely off, but you might have to relight the pilot light on a gas water heater, so be sure you know how to do that before attempting.

What's your pre-vacation departure home routine? Please share any money-saving tips in the comments below.

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