1. Unplug appliances and devices
Unplug any of your electronic devices (e.g., TV, computer, sound system) connected directly to the wall to avoid any power surges and reduce your energy consumption from phantom loads while you’re away. You can unplug the surge protector from the wall outlet if devices are plugged into surge protectors.
Phantom loads have been reported to cost the average Canadian family around $150 annually. By switching to smart outlets or power strips, you can eliminate phantom loads used by devices all year round. Some smart power strips also allow you to track your energy usage and control devices remotely.
2. Turn off most lights and set timers for some
Don’t forget to turn off the lights in your home before you leave. You can also set timers for certain lamps in your home to go on in different rooms at varying times to make your house look occupied while you’re gone. If you’d like to control your lights remotely through your smartphone, install smart timers or Wi-Fi-connected bulb sockets.
3. Keep the fridge at least half full
Did you know that a fully stocked fridge retains cold better than an empty one?
That’s because a full fridge keeps items cooler and consumes less energy. All you need to do is fill up the extra space on the shelves with jugs, ice trays or containers of water. You can also adjust the thermostats on your refrigerator and freezer to 38°F for the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer to conserve even more energy. You might consider emptying your fridge completely and unplugging it for longer vacations lasting four weeks or more.
4. Use a smart thermostat to control the temperature of your home
If you have a Google Nest thermostat, you can manually set it to hold the temperature and maintain it while you’re on vacation or for as long as you need. This is convenient if you want your thermostat to ignore scheduled or automatic temperature changes and stay at a specific temperature. You could also set it to Eco Temperatures and remotely control your home’s heating schedule.
5. Set your water heater to a lower temperature
Water heating can account for 17% of the energy consumed in the home.
By lowering the temperature of your water heater by several degrees, you can prevent it from cycling on and off too frequently.
6. Keep your home and plumbing warm to prevent pipe freezes
Since Alberta is known for having extremely cold winters, you need to ensure that the furnace is running while you’re away to keep the house warm enough, so pipes don’t freeze. Set your home temperature between 17°C - 20°C as the interior of the floor and wall spaces, where water piping is likely located, tend to be colder than actual living spaces.
Opening the doors to all rooms allows you to keep an even temperature throughout the home. For additional security and peace of mind, you could install a water flow and low-temperature sensor on your main water supply pipe and connect it to your smartphone.
7. Check your smoke detector
Replace batteries for your smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure it is working properly.
Finally, ensure your home doesn’t look unoccupied while on vacation. Pause newspaper delivery, forward your mail, and ask a friend to pick up items that may be delivered to your doorstep. If you’re away during winter, arrange for someone to clear the snow on your driveway and sidewalks as needed. It’s always great to have a trusted friend, neighbour or relative to keep an eye on your home and be able to access your home in emergency situations. Bon voyage and safe travels!