How to save energy at home when you’re away on holiday

August 5th, 2015

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How to save energy at home

If you’re taking a well-deserved break from the everyday home-work-sleep routine that will last longer than a couple of days, it’s entirely possible that a good chunk of your home’s electricity will end up going to waste… and you’ll still have to pay for it!

800px-Hybrid_vacationsource: Mjuzikxhankej on Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a quick checklist of things to, well, check before you head off on your next great adventure:

Switch off and unplug as many appliances as possible

You know that little light that shines when your appliances are plugged in? It’s only little. It probably doesn’t use much electricity. What’s the harm in leaving it on while you’re away?

While it is true that the little light itself isn’t a massive power drain, it also indicates that your appliance is on Standby – as in, fully powered up and ready for use at a moment’s notice.

800px-Standby_indicator source: Firstfreddy at Wikimedia Commons

Standby power has been described as “self-indulgent“, but when you’re loafing around at home, it’s hard to argue with its convenience. Being able to slump down in your chair and switch on the TV with a single touch of the remote control is a much more pleasant experience than having to plug it in and switch it on first.

But for when you KNOW there is ZERO chance that you’ll be using your appliances (say, when you’ll be zooming around in the back of a tuk tuk), it’s a safe and thrifty idea to leave these switched off and unplugged. A lot of people forget to do it!

Every little bit helps! For example, the University of Queensland’s Property and Facilities Division saved almost $35,000 by switching off all unnecessary electronics over the low-occupancy three-week holiday period.

Switch the fridge to holiday mode

While many of us will attempt to eat up as much of the food in our fridge as we can before setting out on our next great adventure, it’s entirely possible that there may be a few items in long-term storage that you’d rather save for later than scoff immediately. Because of this, the fridge is one of the few appliances that you’ll probably have to leave plugged in and switched on while you’re away.

This can be a problem, as fridges are designed with the assumption that they’re going to see a fair bit of use each day. Because cold air will escape every time you open the door, fridge motors are made to over-cool the air to compensate, which takes a fair bit of energy.

584L Samsung Side By Side Fridge SRS583NLS

So even if if you’re not at home and the fridge door is staying closed, the fridge will still keep on working hard and eating up the extra power it needs to stay extra cold for precisely no reason.

A fridge with a digital inverter compressor can help to save energy around the home, whether you’re home or away, simply by speeding up or slowing down based on how your fridge is being used. Plus, they tend to run more quietly and result in less wear and tear than some other fridges.

Check out this video from Samsung for a cute anthopomorphic personification of how a fridge’s digital inverter motor works:

Also, before you go away, check your fridge’s manual (if you’ve lost yours, you can find PDF manuals on Appliances Online) to find out whether your fridge features a Holiday Mode.

holiday mode button

This special operating mode takes into account the fact that you won’t be using your fridge very much, and turns the compressor down to the minimum speed. When combined with the excellent insulation of a closed and completely sealed fridge, the compressor will maintain a consistent temperature for keeping your food fresh, all while using the minimum amount of energy.

Shut off the heating and cooling

If your house is going to be empty while you’re away, you don’t really need to keep its temperature under control. Though if you’re leaving pets at home, whether on their own or with a pet sitter, it’s worth making sure they don’t freeze or overheat (both the pets and the pet sitter).

Panasonic 2.6kW Reverse Cycle Split System Inverter Air Conditioner CSCUE9PKR

But for homes without pets or housesitters, if you’ve set the timer on your air conditioner or heater to automatically run at certain times of day (so you can come home from work to a home that’s already perfectly comfortable without waiting), remember to switch these off for the duration of your holiday.

Shut off the hot water

Another item around the house that you won’t be using while you’re away is the water heater. This hardworking appliance can sometime be forgotten as part of our holiday planning, as it’s often positioned a bit out of the way, and out of sight means out of mind.


Rather than paying money to keep a supply of hot water ready to go when you’re definitely not going to use it, you should be able to safely switch your electric water heater off before you leave. Just remember to switch it back on before going for that first post-holiday shower!

If you have an LPG or natural gas hot water heater, this shouldn’t be a big issue, as many of these models are Continuous Flow systems that only heat water when it’s being used, rather than keeping a supply of hot water ready to go at a moment’s notice.

The lights

It’s an old trick to keep a light on at home when you go away to bamboozle would-be burglars into thinking that someone’s still at home when the house is empty.

Unfortunately, keeping a light switched on 24/7 for potentially weeks at a time can end up using a fair bit of power, which you’ll have to pay for, and no-one is using but the burglars.


One viable alternative is to invest in in a timer that will switch your lights on and off at predetermined intervals. This will not only help keep your home from using up too much energy on lighting when nobody’s home, but a light that occasionally switches off may appear a bit less suspicious than one that stays on constantly, day and night.

Do you have any energy-saving tips for when you go away on holiday?

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

2 responses to “How to save energy at home when you’re away on holiday”

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great tips! We are going away for 4 months early next year, and trying to figure out the best way to “power down” our house. Will definitely be doing these!

  2. Mark Bristow says:

    Thanks Sarah! Hope our tips prove helpful!

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