Energy tips.....Ready for a winter vacation? If you’re spending your holidays abroad, take 15 minutes before you head out the door to complete these easy energy-saving to-do’s. You might save enough to buy yourself a massage après-ski. Plus, you'll be more relaxed knowing your home is hibernating safely while you're away.

  1. Turn down your thermostat. Depending on your home’s insulation, you can set your thermostats lower than usual. We recommend keeping it at a steady 55 degrees while you're away, cutting your heating bill significantly. (Do keep in mind the hazards of frozen pipes.) Programmable thermostats, which may be installed at no cost during a home energy evaluation, will let you keep the heat low through your vacation but warm things up just in time for your return. If you'll be away for an extended period, consider turning off the water, draining the pipes and setting the thermostat even lower — but talk to a plumber first.
  2. And your hot water heater (or put it in vacation mode). If your water heater is older than its warranty period, and especially if it's showing signs of age such as leaks or rust, consider replacing it now to avoid the catastrophe of a ruptured tank while you're away. Look for an Energy Star® model to save on the substantial cost of hot water, year-round.
  3. Lower and close all your window treatments such as blinds, curtains and drapes, to hold heat in the house. You should also make sure to lock your windows as that will help further eliminate drafts with a tight seal. While you’re considering windows, be sure that they can hold up to the winter chill – double- or triple-pane ones are best.  
  4. Add insulation and air sealing. If your home has cracks or gaps that let in drafts, or if your insulation is lacking, there's no better time to have the structure sealed and give it a warm blanket. You'll reduce your heating (and cooling) bills year-round, and you're more likely to avoid freezing pipes; this is especially important if you've turned down the thermostats.
  5. Use light timers. If you leave lights on to discourage burglars, put them on timers rather than having them consume electricity 24 hours a day. Save even more power by swapping out your bulbs to high-efficiency bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs, available at low- or no-cost during a home energy evaluation.
  6. Unplug everything you can or put your electronics on smart power strips. These power strips will both turn off your DVR when your TV is off and eliminate electricity leaks from equipment when it's not in use.
  7. Close the damper on your fireplace, if you have one. When you return from vacation, get in the habit of doing this after each fire, as soon as the ashes are completely cold.