Before leaving town for vacation or other extended periods of time, it is common practice to make sure the house is well secured, the pets are taken care of, and the mail and newspaper are stopped or brought in by a neighbor or friend. But when planning to leave for a well earned summer getaway do not forget to take some basic, small steps to save money and energy at home, including:

  • Turning down the water heater to "vacation mode." Because water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in the home.  Since a large percentage of the cost of running a water heater is due to the "stand by" losses, this is probably the easiest and most cost effective money- and energy-saving tip for a home when it is vacant.  Just remember to leave yourself a note to turn it back on when you return home.
  • Setting the programmable thermostat at a higher temperature than usual - as long as there are no pets in the home.
  • Unplugging "energy vampires"  - electronic appliances that even when turned off utilize a small amount of electricity.  Called phantom loads, these can include items such as a coffee maker, headset chargers, laptop computer, TV, cable box, rechargeable toothbrush, and printer. Americans can waste up to one month's electricity bill each year on vampire energy.
  • Keeping window shades drawn to help keep the house cool from the afternoon sun.
  • Making sure all lights are turned off. For lights on a security timer, use LED bulbs.

It's always nice reviewing the month's utility bill and realizing how easy it was to save energy and money at home while on vacation.