Greening Your Home Before Travel

As we prepared to leave for the holidays today we realized that there were several things we could do to save money and energy while we were gone.   While Jon is driving, I have a spare minute to write about some of the things we did and you should consider doing as well.

programmable thermostat open for programming

Notice the Hold button

We have three heating zones in our house, and therefore three Energy Star programmable thermostats.   Jonathan went around to each of them and set the temperature to 58 degrees and pressed the hold button.  We chose 58 degrees because one of our cats is fairly old and we didn’t want to make it too chilly for her, otherwise I might have chosen 55 degrees.  You don’t want to turn the system off completely during the winter because you could end up with frozen and burst pipes if there’s a cold spell.

He also turned down our hot water heater.   Our hot water heater has a “vacation” setting – apparently most do.   You may want to put a mark with a sharpie or painters tape to indicate where you have the heater set to before you turn it down.  The trick with this is to remember to turn it back up *before* you want to take a shower when you get back.

red hot water heater dial set to warm

Save energy by turning your water heater down to about 120°F

If you don’t normally keep your entertainment system unplugged,  this is a good time to unplug it.   This includes DVD players, VCRs, tuners and cable boxes – if you don’t need it on for your DVR.  This is also a good time to look around and see if there are other things you typically have plugged in all the time that you won’t be needing.  For example we unplugged (and took with us) our baby monitors.  Be sure you shut your computer down and turn off your printer, etc.

We recommend that you turn off all your lights before leaving.  If you feel it’s important to have lights on while you’re gone, put them on a timer – that will be more realistic looking anyhow!

Some other housekeeping things to remember now that you’re being totally green include emptying your table top composter (this is a good time to clean it out and let it dry too), taking out your trash (we produce so little trash with all the composting and recycling that we only take it out once or twice a week), and making sure your windows are all closed!  (If you’re in a cold climate like we are, hopefully that won’t be an issue.)

To summarize:

  • Turn down thermostats and set hold function
  • Turn down water heater
  • Unplug entertainment center
  • Unplug miscellaneous items
  • Shut off computer and peripherals
  • Turn off lights, put on timer if necessary
  • Empty table top composter
  • Take out trash
  • Close all windows
Happy Greening and Happy Travels!
Alicia & Jon
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  1. Following you from MBC! So glad to find your site… I always love green tips!

  2. Thanks for some great tips (…especially for someone like myself in the process of buying my first home). What a great help your ideas will be!

    Stopping by from U100 MBC and am now following you. Have a wonderful 2010!


  3. Following you from MBC!

  4. Tip for Returning to a Warm Home:

    If you are having friends watch your pets or your home, ask them to take the thermostats off of Hold the day before you return. That way, you come home to a comfortable home instead of a chilly one. We really appreciated a comfortable home after traveling all day and getting back around midnight to a foot or so of snow outside.

    Also, thanks to Alicia for remembering to have me turn the water heater back up to our “warm” setting. That would have been a very unpleasant shower the next morning. 🙂

  5. Those are great tips!! I didn’t know about the vaca setting on the water heater!! 🙂

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