So you are ready to go on a long vacation and you are worried about your electric bill being high when you get back and you want to know if there is anything you can do to keep you bill low when you get back. Well, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that your electric bill is not through the roof. Most of these tips even work well if you are only going out of town for the weekend as well.
1. Turn off the water heater.
That’s right. An electric water heater is one of the largest consumers of electricity in your home next to the A/C. For a normal family, a water heater can account for as much as 25% of the electricity that is consumed in your home. To put it another way, they can easily uses 300 kwh per month which can equal $30 or more. Let’s understand why we would want to turn off our water heaters while we are out of town. The water heater has a thermostat inside just like the A/C does. What that means is the water heater will be keeping the water at that temperature regardless of whether you are in your home or you are one vacation. One argument that I always hear from people is that they want to be able to take a shower as soon as they get home from vacation and they do not want to be waiting on the water to get hot. Well, let me put your mind at ease. Most water heaters have about a 30 minute recovery. This means that it takes the water heater about 30 minutes to be full of hot water again. So, walk in from you vacation, turn the water heater back on and then unload your car and get ready to take your shower. By this time the water should be nice and hot for you to take a shower. The next question is, “how do I turn it off?” The most convenient way is in the breaker box. Find the breaker labeled as water heater and turn it off. Alternatively, there should be a disconnect at the water heater. You can pull this disconnect and this will turn off the water heater as well. I would only use the second method if you are comfortable dealing with electricity because it could be dangerous.
I want to note that I would not turn the water heater off if you live in a climate that freezes and it is the winter time when you will be gone. This is only recommended during the times when temperatures are above freezing.
2. Turn off the A/C
The A/C is the largest consumer of electricity in the home and because of this, you do not want to overlook it when you leave for vacation. Now, if you are hardcore, depending on the time of year, you will just turn off the A/C when you leave for vacation and turn it back on when you come home. But, if it is in the middle of summer you may want to ensure that the house is not an oven when you get back. My recommendation is to turn the thermostat up to at the very least 80 degrees in the summer time when you leave, higher if you think you can stand it. If you are going on vacation in the winter time you will want to turn the thermostat down to at least 60 degrees. This will ensure that your A/C or heat are not running constantly while you are gone trying to keep your couch comfortable.
3. Unplug, unplug, unplug!
In this day in age when you turn your lights off at night you can just about still see everything because of all the lights from your devices that are still on. The lights may be from computers, television, gaming systems, microwaves, etc. Whatever the lights are coming from, they are drawing electricity to be kept on. Unplugging things that are not necessary to be on while you are gone, such as your wireless router (if you have networked security cameras you may need to leave that on). All of these little things do not use very much on their own but collectively they do add to your bill. Remember that nothing is free!
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4. Turn off lights
This sounds like a no-brainer but many people forget to turn their lights off when they leave. Often times they will get home from vacation only to discover that they light in their bedroom or bathroom had been left on. Do a once over before you walk out the door and make sure that the lights are off. If you are going to leave a light on for security reasons, look at getting a timer so that it does not run all the time. Or, put in an LED bulb in that particular light fixture.
5. Turn off the water
I know this does not appear to have anything to do with electricity but if something happens while you are gone, such as a busted water line or a leaking toilet, you will be in for a big water bill. If the water line breaks and it is a hot water line and you have forgotten to turn off the water heater, it will constantly run trying to heat the water. This, again, is only recommended during warmer temperatures.
If you are hardcore like me and you do not care if you have to reset your clocks when you get back then this tip is for you. When I go out of town on vacation, as long as it is not a time where we are having freezing temperatures, I just go and turn off my main breaker. If your main breaker is off, your electric meter will not turn while you are gone. This is how my power bills during the summer when I have been on vacation have been as low as $40 when the base charge takes up $20 of that $40.
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