About "Ask the Energy Expert"
Tiffany Spence is an energy expert at Florida Power & Light Company. She’s conducted thousands of energy audits at homes and businesses, helping customers find new ways to make their bills even lower.
Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here
Asked on: March 24, 2017 by Linda F., Palm Coast
When I leave on vacation for two weeks, what appliances should I turn off to save on my energy bill? Would it be wise to turn off my Internet and TV, as well as unplug the coffee maker, toaster, alarm clocks and nightlights?
Hi Linda, I hope you have a great trip. To help you save while you’re away, I’ve compiled a list of energy saving tips. Now, you won’t save a lot of money with these tips, but every little bit counts, right?
First, I’d like to share an energy-saving tip that you can use year-round. It has to do with one of the biggest users of energy in your home, the air conditioner. Before you head out for a two-week vacation, make sure you leave your A/C on, with the fan switch in the “auto” mode and set the thermostat to 82 degrees or higher. Going away for longer? Here’s what you need to know.
Back to your original question – the best things to turn off or adjust when you leave are the ones that use the most energy. Here’s the short list:
- Air conditioner - We talked about your air conditioner. It can account for over 50% of your energy usage. Ensure you adjust the thermostat settings so you aren’t cooling an empty house when you’re away.
- Pool pump - If you have a pool, your pool pump can be the second biggest energy user. You can reduce your pool pump’s run time while you are away to save energy. We suggest you run your pool pump four hours per day in the winter, and six hours per day in the summer. If you have a multi-speed pump be sure to talk to a certified or registered pool contractor on how to set it while you are away.
- Water heater - A traditional, tank-style electric water heater keeps your water hot day and night so it’s available when you need it. If you’re not going to be home, you’ll save energy by turning it off. See how to look for your tank’s on/off switch. If you’re going to be away for an extended period and don’t have an on/off switch, you may want to turn off the circuit breaker to the hot water heater.
- Lighting is the fourth largest energy user for homeowners. But many of you are already taking steps to reduce the cost of lighting your home by swapping out older bulbs for more energy-efficient options like CFLs and LEDs. Learn more by viewing my previous blogs on energy-efficient lighting and light dimmers. Lighting can be the fourth largest energy user for home owners. Make sure to turn off your lights when you leave for vacation and consider using automatic timers.
Did you know some appliances use energy even when they are off?
We suggest turning off or even unplugging appliances and other items that use energy even when they’re in off- or idle-mode. Look for items that have always-on digital clocks or other displays, these can be energy stealers. Below is a list of some of the best appliances to turn off or unplug while you’re away:
- Home entertainment equipment, including video game consoles, set-top boxes (DVRs), and other TV-related devices - Just two of these boxes can equal the energy use of a refrigerator, and that can cause your bill to increase. So, unplugging these items could lead to a savings of a few dollars a month.
- Desktop computers, monitors, and other computer equipment - This includes those pesky charging devices. Many of us have multiple devices – phone, tablet, laptop – and even multiple people using them. Did you know that the average cost of charging these devices is coming in at about $15/year? It’s definitely worth unplugging the chargers when you’re not home.
- Home stereo equipment, like AV receivers, stereos, and speakers left plugged in or turned on when not is use can add a few extra dollars to your bill.
- Electronic kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, microwaves, or small refrigerators - Some devices, like toasters or stand mixers, don’t draw any energy unless they’re being used, so there’s really no need to unplug them.
- Miscellaneous devices, alarm clocks and nightlights draw relatively little power (just a couple watts), so although it’s still beneficial to unplug or turn them off if possible, they may not be high-priority devices. With that said, every penny counts!
Technologies that can automatically turn off your electronics
For many customers, it’s also worth considering options that can automatically turn off electronics whenever they aren’t being used (not just when you leave for vacation). The two most prominent options for doing this include using advanced power strips or smart plugs:
- Advanced power strip (which commonly use current-sensing technology, occupancy sensors, or timers) present one option to address unnecessary power draw.
- Smart plug is an Internet-connected outlet that provides data on energy consumption though a mobile app, lets users set up on/off schedules through a centralized web portal, and (in some cases) allows for control of connected devices through an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Lastly, safety and security – while saving on your monthly energy bill is important, safety and security are even more important. Be sure to give your home that lived-in look while you’re away by installing a motion detector light or using a timer on an indoor light.
We’re always working to keep your energy bills low, and helping you find ways to make your bill lower. When you get back from your vacation, you may want to take our Online Home Energy Survey to get a free personalized recommendation for managing your energy usage.
Have a safe trip!
Your safety is very important to us. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room. For non-emergencies, you can reach us during regular business hours via Facebook private message, or follow and message us on Twitter and one of our representatives will assist you. To report an outage, please call 1-800-4-Outage. Thank you and please stay safe.