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Save energy at home while away on summer vacation

6/16/2016 2:26:08 PM

While on summer vacation, don’t pay for energy at home that you won’t use. 

Before leaving town—for one week, two weeks or more--there are several simple steps you can take to save energy in your home. The Minnesota Commerce Department and U.S. Department of Energy offer the following energy- and money-saving tips:

  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater. Water heating accounts for about 20 percent of annual energy costs in a Minnesota home. No sense heating the water if you’re not there to use it. Instead of the recommended daily setting of 120 degrees F, turn the control knob to “vacation mode.” Read more to cut water heating bills. 

  • Set your thermostat (manual, programmable or smart) at a higher temperature than usual. Again, no sense cooling your home if you’re not there. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your air conditioning system thermostat at 85 degrees or a bit higher, so the AC will occasionally turn on to remove humidity. Learn more about thermostats. 

  • Reduce standby power loads. Standby power, or the electric power consumed by electronics and appliances when they are switched off or in standby mode, costs the average U.S. household $100 per year.  

  • You can cut standby power by using power strips and turning them off when electronics and appliances are not in use, unplugging electronics when not in use, and using ENERGY STAR® products, which use less standby power. However, some appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers, you will want to keep on. Read more. 

  • Keep window shades and curtains drawn to help your house stay cool in the afternoon sun. 

  • Make sure all lights are turned off. For lights on a security timer, use energy-efficient CFL or LED lights

Whether it makes sense to turn off your refrigerator depends on how long you will be gone. 

If you are going away for just a week or two, turning it off might not be worth it because you would have to empty all items from the fridge. If you will be away for a month or more, leaving the refrigerator running is just a waste of electricity—but make sure you keep the door open to prevent mold and mildew. Read the owner’s manual about how to turn off your appliance. GE offers recommendations for refrigerator shutdowns. 

For a range of general energy-saving tips, visit the DOE Energy Saver website or check out the Home Energy Guide (pdf) offered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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