Long-term travel is an exciting prospect, offering unlimited potential for professional opportunities and personal fulfilment. However, it’s important to think about how your house will operate in your absence. The last thing you want is a large energy bill waiting when you return home! Follow these tips to get your house ready for your long-term travel plans.
Unplug Your TV and Other Electronic Items
Image via Flickr by Aya (Aya)
Pull the plug on your TV set and other electronics you don’t need running before your vacation. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, removing the plug will protect your appliances if there’s a power surge when you’re gone. It will also make sure the electronics don’t pull vampire power. All electronics draw energy, even when they’re not powered on. While the amount of vampire voltage is small per day, it can really add up during a long-term getaway. The Department of Energy estimates the average American household wastes $100 every year on vampire power.
Set Your Thermostat
You might be tempted to simply switch off your thermostat before your trip, but continuous operation is important.
A hot, humid house provides the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Excessive summer heat could also damage the wall compounds in Sheetrock. On the flip side, if you’re traveling during winter, your heat pump or heater will need to work too hard on your return if the house has been icy.
If you have a programmable thermostat, finding the right temperature is easy. Use the “hold” or “vacation” mode and let the thermostat do all the work. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, experts suggest you should add four degrees to your regular household temperature during summer travel and subtract four degrees during winter. If you have a gas furnace you can reduce the thermostat temperature even further to around to six to eight degrees less than your standard temp.
Close Your Blinds
Keep your blinds closed while you’re away so your thermostat doesn’t need to work harder to maintain its temperature. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests highly-reflective closed blinds can reduce heat gain on a sunny day by roughly 45 percent, so don’t underestimate their impact. As an added bonus, when your blinds are closed thieves won’t be able to peek inside your home to see you’re not there.
Set Timers for Your Lights
It can be difficult to conserve energy and deter burglars. When a house stays dark for an extended period, it tells thieves no one is home. Yet running the lights all the time is expensive and wasteful. Setting security lights on variable timers provides the ideal solution. You don’t need all lights on a timer, just enough to give the appearance of activity. Make sure your security lights have CFL bulbs; they’ll last longer and draw much less power than standard bulbs.
Once you’ve taken care of these parts of your home, close the door and don’t look back. Seize the opportunities that long-term travel provides with both hands, secure in the knowledge your home will run efficiently while you’re gone.