It’s August, and that means it’s time for vacation for many Americans. If you’re heading out of town, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to make sure your home stays energy-efficient while you’re gone. Here are a few tips to help you conserve energy and keep your home green while you’re away:
* Turn your air conditioner to a higher-than-normal setting, or turn it off altogether. If you have pets (fish, rodents, etc.) that will be remaining indoors while you’re gone, make sure you set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature for them. If not, consider turning your air conditioner off or at least raising the temperature to the mid-80’s. You’ll save energy and fuel costs.
* Be sure to take a last trip through the house before you leave to make sure you’ve turned off lights and unplugged all energy-sucking applicances. Otherwise known as “energy vampires,” applicances like your HDTV, cable box, computers and stereo equipment can suck power even when they’re not turned on. Consider investing in power strips to plug in groups of appliances so that you can easily unplog one strip instead of having to remember to unplug each individual item. If you want to leave a light on at night, invest in a timer so it won’t stay on all day.
* Turn down the temperature on your water heater. This can use lots of energy even when it’s just in standby mode.
* Clean out your refrigerator and give away anything that may go bad during your trip to a neighbor or family member. Turn the temperatures down to 38 degrees in the fridge and -5 degrees in the freezer to keep anything from spoiling. If your fridge is bare, put a couple of water-filled jugs inside to avoid temperature fluctuations.
* Be sure to notify the post office and your local newspaper if you’ll be gone for more than a few days. The post office can have your mail held for pickup there, and your local newspaper can do the same.