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Set your home to vacay mode 

While you are off enjoying a new adventure or time away, give your home’s equipment a vacation, too. Doing so can reduce energy waste and wear and tear on the heating and cooling system, appliances and more. 

Your heating and cooling system doesn’t need to be quite so comfortable while you’re away. Setting the thermostat closer to the outdoor temperature can save you energy and money, but don’t completely turn off the heating or cooling system. In extreme weather, your heating and cooling system also helps protect your home from freezing pipes or damage from excessive heat. 

Though each home is different, as a rule, you can typically set your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees closer to the outdoor temperature when you aren’t home. If you have a heat pump, do not change the settings more than 1 degree in heat mode. 

With a smart thermostat, you can control the settings remotely from your smartphone, enabling you to adjust the temperature after you leave home and right before you return. 

Most water heaters include a vacation mode setting, which drops the temperature to reduce energy when you’re away. 

Security measures 

Closing the curtains can provide two benefits. It can keep heat from the sun at bay, reducing the load on your heating and cooling system, and it also blocks visibility into your home when you’re away. 

For security, some people use timers or leave on exterior lights. Make sure any lights left on are LEDs, instead of incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs use less energy and have less impact on your electric use when left on all night. Smart LEDs can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone. 

Unplug before unwinding 

Some devices in your home continue to draw power from your electrical outlets even when turned off or on standby. 

Before you leave for vacation, walk through your home and unplug devices and small appliances. Fully power down gaming consoles and computers, and unplug any devices that have lights, clocks or use standby mode. 

MIRANDA BOUTELLE writes on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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