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Cool off your utility bills while on vacation
Published Thursday, August 04, 2011 9:51 AM
Green Living: Energy-Saving Tips from Santee Cooper

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – Save money on your utility bill this summer by taking small steps to save energy while you enjoy an end-of-season vacation.

“For many of us, summertime is also vacation time. Higher summer temperatures and higher utility bills have the potential to take a bite out of your vacation fund,” said Juan Holmes, manager of Conservation and Energy Efficiency. “While planning your vacation, take a few minutes to also plan for ways to cut your energy use while you’re away from home.”

Start your vacation energy savings by turning your air conditioner to a higher-than-normal setting. According to Energy Star, heating and air conditioning account for as much as 50 percent of the energy used in your home, so setting your thermostat in the mid-80s while you’re gone can save you some cash. You can also opt to turn your air conditioner off if you feel comfortable doing so.

Before leaving, walk around your home and make sure the lights are turned off. If you want to keep a light or two on to make it your home appear occupied, consider using a timer so your lights don’t stay on all day and night.

While making sure the lights are turned off before you leave, take a few minutes to unplug appliances that can use power even when they’re turned off. This phantom power adds to your energy usage and your energy bill. Unplug appliances like televisions, DVD players, microwaves, computers, toasters and coffee makers.

Although unplugging most appliances is a smart move, leave your refrigerator and freezer plugged in. Turning the fridge and freezer off may cause them to become mildewed and smell musty. Also, refrigerators and freezers run most efficiently when they are full. Before you leave for vacation, fill your refrigerator with jugs of water and keep some frozen vegetables or bags of ice in your freezer.

Lastly, turn the temperature down on the hot water heater, which uses the most energy when it’s in standby mode.

Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, and the state’s largest power.

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