Inspired Habitat: Going Green Before You Go Away

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The day has finally arrived! After all the planning, and scheduling, and shuffling of schedules, it’s finally time to head out on vacation. You’ve got the standard checklist of last-minute things; you’ve already put your mail on hold, arranged for the neighbors to keep an eye on the house and for your sister to take the pet bird. Before you hit the road though, add a few more things to your checklist to help keep your home green while you’re gone.

Meter read
Want to know exactly how much energy your home is using when you’re not there? Read the meter before you leave and check it again when you return. Do it each time you go away and make a game of aiming for lower energy use each time.

Remember the refrigerator
That big cold box in your kitchen sucks up some serious energy. If you are going on a long trip, empty it out and unplug it (leave the doors open, of course) and disconnect the water supply. If you will only be gone a few days, empty out the easily perishable items and turn the temperature way up. Since no one will be opening and closing the doors, a higher temp will be just fine.

Control the water
Since no one will be showering or doing dishes, turn your water heater down. If it’s a gas model, turn it to the lowest setting, or use the “vacation” or “pilot” mode. If yours is electric, either turn it way down or flip the breaker. Remember, it will take up to several hours to get hot water when you turn it back on.

Kill some vampires
Phantom power takes up a surprising amount of energy. Before you go away, unplug any unnecessary electronics. That includes televisions, cable boxes, game consoles, computers, kitchen appliances, alarm clocks and any charging cord. Basically, if it plugs into a wall and does not need to be on, unplug it.

Leave a light on
But do it the smart way. Having a few lights set on timers helps make it look like someone is home. Be careful about which bulbs and timers you choose – some digital timers are not designed to work with CFL bulbs and can create fire hazards.

Turn off the air
No one’s home, so there is no need to run the AC, but turning it off completely can harm houseplants and make your refrigerator work extra hard, depending on the temperatures in your area. Instead of hitting the “off” switch, set the thermostat to 85 or even 90 degrees while you’re gone.

Inspired Habitat is written by local environmentally-conscious lifestyle website Bambeco, a company committed to advancing a more sustainable world.

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