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Going on Vacation?

Your Meter Won’t Go On Vacation Just Because You Do
Vacation photo-image of blue car with family inside, with red canoe strapped to top

When vacation time comes, and you’re planning to be gone for a week or more, your electric bill should decrease significantly, right? Wrong!

Many people believe that when they leave on vacation, their electric meter stops until they return. If they are on vacation for two weeks, they expect their electric bills to be cut in half. However, here are a number of things your meter will still measure while you’re gone.  If you leave your home for an extended period of time for business or vacation, any appliance you leave plugged in or connected will continue to use electricity even while you are gone.

  • The water heater. Remember, if the electric water heater is left energized during your vacation, it will continue to operate and maintain the tank temperature even if you’re not using any hot water.

  • Refrigerators and freezers will continue to operate to maintain the preset temperatures.

  • Other electric appliances such as clocks, attic fans, humidifiers, air exchangers, heating and air conditioning equipment, lights, and TVs, cable and gaming devices with the “instant-on” feature will all continue to operate. 

  • There is a chance that your electricity usage could even spike during cold weather or hot weather while you're away.  Turning down your thermostat in the winter and up in the summer will help, however a big dip or spike in outside temperature can still cause your heating/cooling costs to increase just to maintain the set temperature.

  • In the summer months, items such as landscape irrigation, well pumps and more may continue to run.

  • In the winter months, consider items such as heat tape on pipes, stock tank heaters, automatic waterers for livestock or pets, or even a space heater in a crawl space.

To help keep your power bill low while you are gone, you may wish to unplug all appliances not in use. If a light is to be left on, consider connecting it to a timer. If you intend to be gone for an extended period of time, contact us and make arrangements so your electric service will remain uninterrupted. We want you to have a happy vacation and a welcome and comfortable return to your home.


Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Home While on Vacation!


Water Heater

This is one of those appliances people don't think about on a regular basis. It sits in a out-of-the-way part of the house (usually the basement or utility room) heating your water, and you only remember it when the water runs cold during a long shower. It's also easy to forget about when leaving on a vacation.

Before heading to the airport, shut off the circuit breaker to the water heater. If you have a gas heater, turn the gas valve off to be safe. Upon returning home, the hot water tap should be allowed to run before the power and gas are turned on to make sure the water tank isn't empty. It can damage the unit if the tank is heated without any water in it.

* If you go on a winter vacation, you should leave the water heater on at the lowest possible (or "vacation" setting) to keep the water from freezing in the lines and tank.


Heating and Cooling

With everyone out of the home for a few days, there is no reason to keep the heater or central air running, unless pets will be left at the house. Even with a pet or two in the home, you shouldn't set the thermostat for 72 when there is no one there to enjoy it. Instead, during the hot summer months, the thermostat can either be set for 85 or turned off completely.

The winter is a little more tricky. The thermostat should be set around 50 degrees to keep appliances and pipes from freezing. The worst way to end a vacation is to come home to a flooded basement or frozen dishwasher.

For every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, a homeowner can save 2-3 percent on his or her electricity bill. If the home has a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted by date, then it can be set to change the temperature the day of arrival, so the family will come home to a comfortable household.

The only caveat to this is in the case of pets. If your family is going on a vacation of several weeks, your animals should either be boarded or an arrangement should be made with a friend to care for the animals daily, including feeding, watering, and walking (if necessary). If the pets are left in the home, then the temperature should not be set so high or low that it will cause them unnecessary discomfort. Your veterinarian will be able to advise a homeowner what household temperature will keep the pets safe while conserving energy.


Automatic Lights

People don't want their houses to look unoccupied while on vacation, because it's easy for burglars to spot. People commonly think that the easiest thing to do is leave a light or two on inside so the home appears lit during the evening hours. This could be a lamp in the living room or even a larger light that may provide light for the entire dining room.

While this is a good safety idea, it's an unnecessary waste of energy - thanks to the invention of automatic lights. These devices place the lights on a timer, so certain lights will turn on and off at a specific times of the day, depending upon your programming. It gives the illusion of being home and prevents wasted energy by keeping lights off during the day.

The automatic timers range from as little as $10 to $30 for an average unit. They can also be used to turn on a radio to add sound as a further deterrent to burglars.

If you don't have an automatic light timer, just ask a friend to visit the home every couple of days to turn on lights at night and turn it off during the day. This is an easy task, especially if they are already visiting to help with pets or plants.



The refrigerator is the electronic equivalent of a large V-8 engine, sucking electricity like a high-performance car. An extended vacation gives you the opportunity to get rid of the food in the fridge, clean it a bit, and unplug it. If the house is vacant for only a few days, it's not worth the trouble to unplug the device, as much of the food will still be good upon return, but extended stays are a different story.  How about that extra beast in the basement or garage?  See if you can empty that before leaving on vacation.

Before leaving, the homeowner should unload the food and clean out the refrigerator thoroughly, leaving the doors open to air out. Also, place a box of baking soda in the freezer and refrigerator to draw in the moisture and help prevent mold growth. Taking the refrigerator offline will save a significant amount of energy while nobody is home.

As an alternative to turning off the refrigerator, set the refrigerator temperature to 42 degrees and the freezer to 5 degrees. This increase is enough to keep everything cold and frozen, but still save energy over the vacation period. As a precaution, it is a good idea to clean out the refrigerator of any leftovers, raw vegetables, and other perishables, and keep only new foods that won't spoil while the house is empty.


Electronics and Appliances

Even with the home empty and the television and major appliances turned off, they are still using electricity. We call them "energy vampires." Before the family leaves, someone should walk around the home and unplug every unnecessary appliance and electronics. This doesn't just include the television, lamps, and entertainment center. Small electronics like electric razors, coffee pots, digital clocks, and cell phone chargers all drain energy when plugged in.  Nothing needs to be moved, simply unplugged.


Save Money and Stress on Vacation

Vacations are a time when you can relax a bit, forget about the little stresses of life, and spend some quality time with your families.  However, vacations can cost a significant amount of money for a family, even with all of the fun you'll have together. It's nice to know that, by practicing these tips and tricks, you can save money on electric bill by decreasing your electricity while you're out of the house. When recovering from the cost of a vacation, every little bit helps. Bon voyage!

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