Shut stuff off while on vacation and save energy
Unplug and turn off devices to save energy while you're away
This story was updated on January 23, 2017.
The next time you plan a vacation getaway, or even a weekend away, take a few minutes to turn off and unplug as many non-essential devices as possible. It will cut your electricity use, avoid safety hazards and save you some money.
Here's a list of the things you should turn off before taking off, especially when leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period:
Turn off all lights, including night lights, but set up energy-efficient lamps on timers or schedule them with wifi-enabled smart plugs for security. Photo sensors or motion detectors are ideal for outdoor lights.
If you're among the minority of British Columbians who need an air conditioner, make sure you turn it off. In hot weather, draw blinds and close other window coverings to minimize heat in your home.
Set a manual thermostat to 16°C (61°F) or a programmable thermostat to 16°C and Hold, or program and use the vacation setting. While it's tempting to turn your heat right off, winter temperatures in many areas of B.C. are low enough to risk frozen pipes and/or mildew issues when the in-house temperature gets too low. If it's going to be really cold, consider shutting off the main water valve and draining your pipes before you leave.
For electric heaters, set to the lowest temperature or turn off at the breaker. For gas, turn it off or use the vacation setting.
Refrigerator & freezer
If you're leaving on an extended trip, consider emptying your fridge completely and turning the thermostat to the warmest setting. Or empty it, unplug or switch it off at the breaker and prop the door open. If you can empty your freezer, unplug it too.
Do you really need it? After unplugging it during your vacation, consider leaving it unplugged and then calling BC Hydro, which has seasonal, limited-time offers to pick up and recycle it — and pay you $30 for it.
Appliances with clocks
Unplug them. Anything with a clock uses electricity.
Microwaves, coffee makers, toaster ovens
Lower temperature by 5°C (10°F) and cover the bed with extra quilts. Or cover with extra quilts but leave at the usual temperature.
TVs, stereos and other electronics
Computers & peripherals
Unplug everything. To minimize losses in a potential break-in, consider hiding laptops and other expensive, portable devices, including cameras.
Gas furnace and gas fireplaces
Turn off pilot light for the summer. You may need to have your gas utility or service company relight them.
Switch off crankcase heater at the circuit breaker or disconnect switch. Allow two hours after turning this back on before operating the heat pump. Or set temperatures at 16°C (61°F) for heating and 30°C (86°F) for cooling.
Swimming pool heater
Turn it off or lower the temperature. Leave the pump on.
Clothes washer and dryer
With today's electronic controls, your clothes washer and dryer can still draw energy when turned off. Turn them off at the breaker box, which is easier than trying to get behind them to reach the plugs. It's also a good idea to turn off the hot and cold water to your washer — some homes don't have burst-proof hoses. Put a sticky note on your washer to remind you to turn the water back on when you return.