Taking a Vacation From Work and Your Energy Bill

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

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For some of us, the summer means taking time away from work and going on those vacations we’ve been planning for months.  However, planning to lower our energy bill at home when we leave for vacation should be just as important.  We often expect a lower electric bill when we return, but some appliances can run just as much when turned off while still plugged in.  This phenomenon is called phantom energy.

When going on vacation, consider adjusting your heat pump or AC unit before you leave to reduce the cost.  If some things in your home may become damaged due to being exposed to high temperatures, then set the thermostat to around 80 degrees F.  You will want to check with your pet’s veterinarian to discuss an ideal temperature for pets that may be left inside.  But remember, by raising the thermostat, your cooling costs can be reduced by 2 to 3 percent for every degree raised. 

Since no one will be home to use the water, try giving your water heater a vacation as well.  It will continue to operate by maintaining the water at the set temperature on the thermometer, so to prevent this unnecessary energy waste, turn off the water heater at the fuse box or circuit breaker panel.  For those who have gas instead, set it to pilot.  Just be sure when you return home from vacation, you change all settings back to the previous readings.


As mentioned before, devices such as televisions, cable boxes, video games, coffee makers, computers, and phone chargers, use phantom energy if turned off, but still plugged in.  A good thing to remember, even when not on vacation, is to unplug electronics and appliances or to simply turn off power strips with anything that does not have to be running.  If you are like me, you will also want to protect your home from theft or break-ins while you’re away.  Investing in inexpensive energy efficient timers for lights and radios will produce the effect of someone being home, while lowering energy use and cost.

Since summer is upon us, this is a great time to look for those summer deals to replace older appliances and items for your home!  Large home improvement, electronic and hardware stores are offering tons of savings on washers and dryers, refrigerators, ACs and fans, and much more.  If you decide to purchase a new appliance, select those that are Energy Star certified and consider asking about free shipping or online offers.

You can find out more details on saving money at our energy saving workshops offered free to the public through the summer!  Contact the Warren and Franklin County Extension offices at (252) 257–3640 or (919) 496–3344 to schedule a program and ask for Lauren, Drew, or Stephen.  We look forward to seeing you there!

www.e-conservation.net                        www.eXtension.org                       

Lauren Lesak is on assignment with NC State University, Department of Natural Resources to work with N.C. Cooperative Extension this summer.  She works on an Energy Conservation team to provide educational workshops for the community.  If your group is interested in a free workshop, please contact your local Cooperative Extension office today. 

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The Family & Consumer Sciences is a department of North Carolina Cooperative Extension that includes prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens consist of:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 919-496-3344, email Rachel_Monteverdi@ncsu.edu or visit http://franklin.ces.ncsu.edu for additional information.