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Set It and Forget It

Putting your home in vacay mode

June 2024

Having peace of mind that your house is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. Follow these energy-saving tips before you leave home.

by Miranda Boutelle, Contributing Columnist

Q: How can I lower my electric bill when I’m gone on vacation?

A: While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation too. As a rule, you can typically set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. Here are some other tips that can help you set your home to vacay mode.


Installing a smart thermostat gives you the ability to control your settings remotely from your smartphone. This allows you to adjust the temperature after you leave home and right before you return.


Most water heaters include a vacation-mode setting. This setting drops the temperature to reduce wasted energy when you’re away. A storage water heater is like an insulated tea kettle, standing by and ready for you to have hot water whenever you need it. Give that water heater a vacation too. Changing the setting to vacation mode keeps it on at a lower setting, saving energy. Leave yourself a note with a reminder to turn it back on when you get home, so you don’t wind up with a disappointing shower before the first day back at work.


Closing the curtains can provide two benefits. It can keep heat from the sun at bay. This reduces the load on your heating and cooling system, which saves energy. It also has the bene t of blocking visibility into your home when you’re away.


Did you know there are devices in your home that continue to draw power from your electrical outlets even when turned off or on standby? Before you leave, walk through your home and unplug devices and small appliances. Make sure gaming consoles and computers are fully powered down. Unplugging any devices that have lights, clocks or use standby mode can also reduce wasted energy.

Having peace of mind that your home is powered down and secure can help you enjoy your vacation. After all, we all need an occasional break.

Miranda Boutelle writes on energy-efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.