Hittin’ the road for the holidays? Save energy at home even while you’re away

15 ways to save energy at home even when you’re traveling for the holidays 

If you’re heading out of town this holiday season, it’s the perfect time to save some extra energy at home. Fewer people in the house = less energy used. It’s Home Alone, but without the elaborate schemes to stop the Wet Bandits. Take advantage of all the ways you can save energy and money at home even while you’re away. Check out these 15 quick and easy tips to power down your home before you board your sleigh and hit the road.

Find energy savings hiding in your HVAC.

Did you know that heating and cooling your home can account for as much as 55% of your household electricity use? That’s… a lot. But that also means just a few small things can make a big difference. Let’s check them out. 

1. Set your thermostat to 55° F in the winter. 

First things first: If you’ve left Grandma, Fido, or your award-winning exotic plants at home while you hop a flight to Honolulu, please leave everyone at a comfortable temperature. But if your home is unoccupied, it’s time to turn that thermostat down!

Set your thermostat to 55° F. For every degree below 72° F, you can save up to 3% on your energy bill. Not only will you save a ton of energy, but you’re also ensuring heat will still flow and your pipes will be protected should temperatures go below freezing. If you’ve got a smart thermostat, use vacation mode to set it and forget it.

Just remember, when you return home and want to reheat the house, only set it to your desired temperature. Bumping up the temperature as high as it can go won’t make your HVAC system work faster, but it will make your system work harder for longer.

2. Unplug space heaters.

Space heaters are energy eaters. Whether you’ll be gone for eight hours or eight days, never leave a space heater on when no one is home. It’s a fire hazard. But if you’re planning to be away, even for a night or two, don’t just turn your space heaters off. Unplug them. Even when off, they’ll continue to use energy just by being plugged into an outlet.

Keep your energy bill out of hot water. 

3. Drop your water heater thermostat to its lowest set point. 

If no one’s home, nobody needs hot water, right? So go ahead and give yourself some extra savings by turning your water heater thermostat down to its lowest setting. For older electric water heaters, look for a small plate on the front of the machine that unscrews. You’ll find the thermostat dial in there. If you have a newer, more energy efficient model, set the thermostat to vacation mode. For gas water heaters, you’ll want to check your user manual. It’s important to remember, however, that this might be a tip to skip if there’s any chance of freezing temperatures while you’re away.

Keep food fresh and frozen. 

4. Set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F.

If you’ve never checked your refrigerator and freezer thermostats (or if it’s been awhile), take 15 seconds to give them a quick glance. For optimal energy efficiency, set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F. Maintain these temperature ranges year-round to keep food fresh, safe to consume, and delicious. (Find more energy-saving tips and advice you can use all year.

Stop vampire energy and give your electronics a breather. 

Everything that’s plugged into an outlet in your home is using energy, even if it’s not technically “on.” We call this “vampire” energy, because it’s sucking up energy — and money — whether the device, machine, etc. is in use or not. So, before you leave for vacation, do a little vampire hunting around your home! Your printer, the air fryer, the gaming system your kids aren’t allowed to take? Unplug it all! 

5. Unplug all small electronic devices, e.g., de/humidifiers, kitchen gadgets, printers.

6. Unplug all TVs, gaming consoles, entertainment devices, computers and laptops.

7. Unplug all power adapters and charging devices.

8. Unplug the microwave, toaster, coffee maker and appliances with an electronic clock.

Leave only necessary lights on. 

9. Turn off indoor and outdoor lights.

While it’s not a bad idea to leave a light or two on when you’re away, you also don’t need to keep the house lit up like, well, a Christmas tree! Keep a few strategic lights on but turn off the rest. If you have timers or light sensors, set those up so that you only have certain lights on at certain times. Don’t forget to unplug any outdoor decorations like inflatables and holiday lights.

Let in some sun. 

10. Open curtains, drapes and blinds in sunny rooms.

This is another quick and easy tip that only takes seconds to complete. While you’re going around the house searching for things to unplug, open curtains, drapes and blinds in rooms that get a lot of sun. By allowing heat-producing sunlight in during the day, you can maintain a warmer temperature inside. This will help prevent your heating system from kicking on unnecessarily.

Don’t forget these miscellaneous items.

Keep the energy-saving shutdown going and knock out just a few more remaining things!

11. Turn off ceiling fans and personal fans.

12. Unplug the hot tub heater or drain/winterize hot tub.

13. Turn off or lower the swimming pool heater. (Leave the pump on.)

14. Unplug air conditioners if they’re not needed for humidity control.

15. Unplug landscaping water features if they’re not needed for aquatic life.

Come home to a lower energy bill with the Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist.

Bring a little extra rest and relaxation to your next getaway when you use TVA EnergyRight’s Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist. Enjoy the comfort of knowing you’re saving energy, saving money and maybe even fighting off an energy vampire or two! 

Download the Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist to get started.


The Residential Team


Save energy and money at home. The TVA EnergyRight Residential Team is here to help you improve your home's energy efficiency so you can lower your bill and live more comfortably.