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Tiffany Spence

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

Heading out on a two-week vacation? What you should know…

By Tiffany Spence

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.

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Comments [30]

  1. Roy aubie

    When converting from a manual to a programmable thermostat , what are the suggested 1 -2-3 steps?

  2. Viviana Barrios

    Good evening , I need the electrical service in other address?
    Can you help me

  3. Carrol Christian

    I do actually turn off my AC, tv, fans, water heater and still do not see a difference in my bill.

    At this point in time, I just installed Impact Windows and my bill is higher than usually – what’s wrong here. There is no one you can speak to about this matter – very disappointing – service is needed

  4. Ray Buonomo

    I see “fuel” & “non-fuel” on my bill.
    Please explain what electric is considered fuel & what electric is considered non-fuel.

  5. John Magill

    I mailed my check on April 11, 2017. How is it possible that you have not received it yet? Today is April 27, 2017.

  6. Ben Barkow

    I love your energy dashboard. Well done. Great information. I’m keen on watching (from a distance) how my A/C use relates to temperature.

    EXCEPT you got one IMPORTANT thing wrong: temperature. I can explain the problem in one term,”degree days”. In heating that is obviously the way to look at HVAC demand, eh. For heating, you just want to know how many hours on a given day were below, say 47F. Above that, a house shouldn’t need much heat. So you only want to know how many hours below.

    Likewise for cooling, although i don’t know what the break-even point would be. Naturally, it would vary with the home, sunlight, wind, various statistical aspects, and so on. No simple index is perfect. But it sure beats simply noting the highest temperature that day…. it could have been 95F for just 30 seconds or for 10 hours.

    Ben Barkow
    (hint, I’m an engineering psychologist and retired professor)

  7. Bill

    I have a smart reader. How do I find out what the number on the meter mean.

  8. Dick Davis

    What settings would you suggest on the Thermostat regarding the Humidity in the home during months of April to Oct?

    If I don’t care to use the Humidity settings, would I turn it to: off or on (lowest humidity setting)……Just adjusting the Temperature (73-75 deg) during the day or evening!

    Thank you,
    Dick Davis
    Venice, Fl.

  9. Maria Munson

    Why is my April bill over $10 more this year than last year even though I used less energy? What happened to make it go up this much for just one month?
    Baffled and upset! That’s just way to much! Please let me know! Thank you!

  10. willie

    can fpl put solor panel on homes and all the power it don’t use sell it to other home?

  11. Lawrence Isaac

    We spoke to customer service about receiving reminder notices for our auto bill pay. She said email bounced- we gave her another email and she said we would receive confirmation. We still have not received a confirmation -3 hours later. HELP

  12. Charles F Riegger

    Does FPL provide whole house surge protection?

  13. Susan

    Helpful. Thanks.

  14. Alexander Alvarez

    Utilizo mi PC unas cinco horas diariamente, es correcto desconectarle de la corriente las otras 19 horas del dia…. pregunto…!!!

  15. Lisa

    Hi, I would like to know if any methods of cooling your home at night is used here in SoFl?
    I read about, Honeywell Fresh Air Ventilation System (Y8150). Can something be done about that? Please, advise.

  16. Mariana

    Hello everybody,

    I am a home owner in Coral Springs in a community association. I believe very much in solar energy, I want to have one in my car for the summer days.
    My question to you : do you FPL will install solar panel in the private homes?
    To be honest I do not want to deal with this companies who appear legit in this solar panel business.
    With all my appreciation for your hard work, keeping Florida ‘in light’.


  17. Hubert I. Flomenhoft

    The most important reason to unplug the computer and TV when away is to avoid getting zapped by a lightning strike.

  18. carl

    benefit of home surge protector from fpl vs one time purchase

  19. john goodearle

    I would like to re-insulate my attic crawl space and could use some assistance in determining proper R values, type of insulation, recommended contractors, etc.

  20. Angela Chandler

    Awesome & positively helpful information! Keep it coming!

  21. Colette Jackson

    How do I receive my A/C rebate after I have purchased a new 16 seer unit from a qualified installer?

  22. Diane Evanger

    Won’t turning off our surge protector result in having to re-program tvs,dvrs,boxes,etc. ?

  23. patriciambond

    Excellent summary to tips to save money while away from home! Thanks a lot.

  24. Elizabeth Sahagiuan

    Please send a phone number to contact you about my bill,
    a phone number, PLEASE.

  25. Shaun

    It’s a water heater not a hot water heater, lol.
    If the water was hot you wouldn’t need to heat it. :)

  26. Barbara

    I am heading north for the summer in a couple of days. What should I set my humidistat at and my thermostat. Also, when I am occupying my condo in the winter, do I leave Iraq shut the humidistat or leave it on.

  27. Barbara

    I am heading up north in a few days. What should my settings on my humidistat and thermostat be. Also, when I am here, do I leave the humidistat on?

  28. Marcia johnson

    Thanks for giving information to the vacation question. I learned a lot. Please keep up the good work.

  29. Angelo LaMonica

    What should I set my relative humidity and my thermostat when leaving for several months?

  30. Judith Eickhoff

    I did not receive my Bill for the month. Just a bunch of garble that looked like spam


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