It’s summer and many people are considering where to spend their vacation days, whether it’s at the beach or the lake, the mountains or far-away amusement parks. Before leaving town for an extended time away from home or just a weekend getaway, there are several simple steps Gulf Power customers can take to save energy in their home—and save money.

Here are five simple money and energy saving tips when leaving for the annual summer trip:

  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater. Water heating accounts for up to 14-25 percent of the of the energy consumed in your home with a large percentage of the cost of running a water heater due to the “stand by” losses. No sense heating the water if you are not home to use it. Instead of the recommended setting of 120 degrees, lower the temperature 10-20 degrees or turn the control knob to “vacation mode.”  For an electric water heater, turn it off at the circuit breaker panel.
  • Set your thermostat (programmable or manual) at a higher temperature than usual. Again, no sense cooling your home if you’re not there. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your air conditioning system thermostat at 85 degrees so the AC will occasionally turn on to remove the humidity.
  • Unplug “energy vampires,” electronic appliancesthat even when turned off utilize a small amount of energy, called phantom loads. Some estimates suggest that Americans have anywhere between 20–40 vampire devices throughout their homes, including the coffee maker and grinder, headset and telephone chargers, laptop computer, television, rechargeable toothbrush, and printers among others. You can cut standby power by using power strips and turning them off when electronics and appliances are not in use, and using ENERGY STAR® products, which use less standby power.
  • Windows let in light, which creates excess heat.  Close blinds and curtains to moderate the temperature and prevent your air conditioner from running excessively.
  • Make sure all the lights are switched off.  If you are planning to use timers or motion-detecting lights to create the illusion of being at home, use energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs in the fixtures that are set to light up.

By following these energy-saving tips and leaving your home in an energy-efficient state, customers can hopefully use the savings on their next vacation.