Holiday getaway? Learn how to save on your electric bill while you're away

Source: Duke Energy

Before you pack the presents to visit family out of town or hit the road for a holiday vacation, Duke Energy suggests customers take a few quick actions that can lower their electric bills while they are away.

Before you pack the presents to visit family out of town or hit the road for a holiday vacation, Duke Energy suggests customers take a few quick actions that can lower their electric bills while they are away.

These five simple steps will reduce the energy your home uses while you are away and may help keep a few dollars in your pocket for next year's vacation fund. Savings will vary depending on the number of days you are away, energy-saving tips implemented, home size, heating system efficiency and insulation level.

 Vacation Energy Saving Tips

  1. If you have a programmable thermostat, use the "vacation" mode. If you have a manual unit, adjusting your thermostat just a few degrees cooler will have a significant impact. A change of just three degrees for 24 hours a day can save 30 percent on your heating costs. Also, set the fan to "auto," not "on." Leaving the fan on all the time costs up to $25 a month. If the forecast is for mild weather, consider turning the system off completely.
  2. Turn off your electric water heater at your breaker if you plan to leave home for a few days. Most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour. A large amount of the cost of running a water heater is due to the "standby" losses. Water heaters are among the top three energy using appliances in your home.
  3. Most of us empty our refrigerators before heading out of town, but did you know a fully stocked refrigerator keeps cold better than an empty one? Keep the fridge and freezer full and tightly packed, and the cold items will keep one another cold. It doesn't even have to be food; you can use water containers or ice trays. Conserve even more energy by adjusting the thermostats on your refrigerator and freezer to higher settings; 38°F for the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer. For trips lasting four weeks or more, consider emptying your refrigerator completely and unplugging it.
  4. Unplug small electrical equipment such as radios, DVD players or TVs when not in use. Electronic appliances can act like energy vampires, sucking power even when they are not in use. This is called phantom loads. Your coffee maker, cable box, game console, laptop computer and even your rechargeable toothbrushes are a few examples of these phantom power users. Use the Duke Energy energy slayer calculator to see how much you can save ( by pulling the plug before you head out of town.
  5. Make sure fans and lights are turned off. For security lights, consider using a timer. And, switch bulbs to LEDs or CFLs to save even more.

With these simple tips, customers can enjoy a holiday vacation and a smaller energy bill when they return home.

Light up the holidays and save
Another holiday energy-saving idea is to replace incandescent lights and displays with LED versions. Duke Energy's holiday lighting calculator will provide estimated savings customized to your holiday lighting plans. Check out the tool at to see your savings. Just four 100-bulb strands of large-scale (C9) incandescent bulbs lit for six hours a day will add about $50 a month to your energy bill. The same setup with LED bulbs would cost just over $7 a month to light.

Duke Energy also recommends customers add timers or photo sensors to ensure displays are turned off during daylight hours.

Duke Energy is an industry leader in the development and implementation of programs to help customers save energy and money. Customers can save year-round by taking advantage of the many options the company offers.

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