Summer has officially begun! Yet somehow it feels like a whole year since the last time you were on vacation. The only thing to do of course, is take a trip! To the beach, to the mountains, to Machu Picchu, to Thailand—wherever you’re going, you’ve got to be psyched. For a blissful week or two, it’s no emails, no shifts, no commute. Just don’t forget to turn off the lights before you leave.
I’m not kidding. Few things are more aggravating than coming home at the end of a long vacation, worn out from travel, and realizing that your lights were on and your AC was running. Now your electric bill is going to be through the roof! It’s almost as bad as remembering you didn’t do the laundry before you left, so now you need to run a load before you can even get out of your travel clothes. To help you avoid coming home to a massive electric bill, we’ve put together a simple checklist of energy saving tips to go through before you lock your doors and hit the road.
Turn Off the Lights and other Electronics
Okay, maybe this seems like common sense. That doesn’t mean it’s not important. Forgetting a light or two can drain your power unnecessarily the whole time you’re gone. Make sure you check the out-of-the-way areas, like your pantry, basement, and bathrooms, to get them all. It’s not just the lights, either—turn off your ceiling fan, and unplug your plug-in scents and your power strips.
There are also certain things you don’t want to turn off, like the smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, or burglar alarm. If you’re concerned about burglary, consider having a trusted neighbor stop by to check the place out, or installing an automatic timer switch for certain lights. When you’re making your last sweep of the house to lock windows and doors, take this opportunity to look for any unnecessary drains on your power supply.
Unplug Your Appliances
Even when you’re not using them, appliances can suck up energy. For that reason, leaving unused appliances plugged in can have a noticeable impact on your electric bill. That’s because energy is used to charge circuits, power display lights, and convert AC to DC power even when the appliance is not in use. Be sure to take care of kitchen appliances like your toaster, coffee maker, microwave, washer and dryer, TV, stereo equipment, desktop and laptop computers, and any video game consoles. And don’t forget your hot water heater. If you’re not home to use it, there’s no sense in keeping all that water hot.
As with the lights, there are certain exceptions. Turning off your refrigerator can cost more in wasted food than it saves in energy. Instead, simply turn up the temperature inside to its minimum settings. These should be around 5℉ for the freezer and 45℉ for the refrigerator. This is cold enough that food won’t unfreeze or spoil, but warm enough that it uses as little energy as possible.
Turn Off Your Air Conditioning
Whether you’re using window units or central air linked to a thermostat, there’s no reason to cool a house unless you’re in it. Air conditioning has one of the highest household electricity demands. Unnecessarily cooling your home while you’re not there will cost a significant amount of money on your next energy bill. And who wants to throw money down the drain like that?
Also, in order to regulate your home’s temperature so the AC doesn’t need to work as hard when you return, close your blinds and windows. Simply keeping the sun out of your house will go a long way toward keeping your home cool.
Switch to a Fixed Rate Energy Plan
Here’s a tip that can help you not only during summer, but all year round—check out a fixed rate energy plan. See, the most common way to pay for electricity is what’s known as a variable-rate energy plan. Under these plans, rates rise and fall according to the market price of electricity, which moves according to supply and demand. Electricity demand is typically highest in the summer when everybody who isn’t on vacation turns their air conditioning down to beat the heat. As a result, electricity prices go up in the summer as well. So even though you’re using a minimal amount of electricity at home while you’re getting your tan on in the Bahamas, you’re paying a premium for what you do use.
The way around this is by switching to a fixed-rate energy plan. Under these plans, electricity rates stay the same over the duration of the agreement between the customer and the electricity supplier. So even when everyone else’s rates go up in the summer, your supply rate stays the same as when you first signed up. This means unless you forgot to take out the trash, there won’t be any surprises when you get back home.
At Liberty Power, we seriously hope you have a great time on vacation this summer. We’d love to make it as enjoyable as possible by helping you find the ideal fixed-rate energy plan. Contact us to learn more about the plans available in your area. Hope you have an awesome trip!
Photo Credit: Nick Karvounis