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Save watts at home even while you’re away

If you take a vacation break, give your electric bill a break, too. There are many steps you can take to avoid wasting energy when no one is home.

Before you leave on vacation, take a few minutes to turn off and unplug equipment. You’ll save energy and avoid safety hazards. You might want to read your meter before you leave and when you return — it’s a good way to spot any hidden energy wasters. Turn off:

  • Lights. Turn off all lights except for one or two. Unless these lights are compact fluorescents, put them on timers that can be set to random patterns to discourage potential prowlers. Photo sensors or motion detectors are good ideas for outdoor lights.

  • Air conditioning. Turn it off. Close window coverings to help keep heat from building up in your home while you’re away.

  • Electric water heater. Turn off your water heater at the electric breaker panel if you are going to be away for more than a few days. If it is a natural gas water heater, turn it down but not off.

  • Refrigerator. If you’re leaving on an extended trip of a month or more, you might want to empty, clean and unplug your refrigerator to save energy. Prop the door open to prevent odors.
Many appliances draw energy even when they’re turned off. So, unplug your television, VCR/DVD player, stereo, computer, washer and other appliances. You may need to reset the clock on VCR/DVD players or clock radios when you return. For safety’s sake, don’t overlook small appliances that are best left unplugged when unattended — items like toasters, coffee makers, irons, curling irons, hair dryers and electric tools.