Planning your long weekend vacation takes a lot of focus, but there are a few steps you need to take before you pack up your suitcases and head out the door. Making your home safe and energy efficient before you go will help ease your mind over the long, relaxing weekend.
One thing that is often overlooked when leaving for vacation (especially a short one) is your home’s air conditioner. There is no need to cool an empty house, but turning it off and then back on may be excessive for a short trip. Try turning the thermostat setting up to just above the predicted temperature of the weekend, and then when you come home you can turn it back to the cool temperature you would like. This will help save you money versus shutting the system off entirely, as your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to “catch up” to your desired indoor temperature.
It’s also important to note that windows let in extra heat on sunny days and may cause your air conditioner to kick in even when it is set at a higher temperature, costing you money. Closing your blinds and window shades is the easiest way to prevent this from happening.
If you are leaving for a longer vacation and want to prevent phantom energy use, turning off the air conditioning system is a good idea. Phantom energy comes from appliances that are turned off, or not in use, but still use energy from being on standby or plugged in.
Phantom energy use can come form several appliances in your house, including TV’s, DVD players, stereos and coffeemakers. Also check that your lights are switched off and security lights or timed lights have been unplugged.
If you are using motion detector lights or timed lights for security purposes make sure the bulbs are energy efficient and that the timer is set to go off only after dark. The sun sets around 8:50 p.m. over memorial weekend and 9 p.m. throughout June here in Minnesota.
Water heaters are another often overlooked source of phantom energy. Most water heaters can be set to a vacation mode, which stops the heated water from waiting in standby mode. This cuts the time the water heater is running and is probably the most cost effective money and energy saving tip for vacationers. There is also no harm is setting vacation mode for weekend trips.
Now you can leave for vacation knowing that your home is safe, secure and energy efficient!