We packed the bags, loaded the car, double-checked that we had passports and airline tickets. I sent the family to the car as I made one last check of the house. My son, puzzled, asked my husband, “Why does she always close all the doors in the house when we go on vacation?” Another one asked, “Why does she unplug everything all the time?” My husband, a sweet, wonderful man, replied, “Because… well, I don’t know. We’ve just always done it that way.”
A couple minutes later, task complete, I hopped in the front passenger seat and explained my madness. Which, as it turns out, is not so crazy after all! Perhaps, you will appreciate this advice as much as my kids.
I love to travel! Obviously… AND I love to save money! When our family travels, I prepare our house for travel too. Burglar-proofing is important — those vacation joys disappear when you walk in the front door to an empty TV stand and missing computer! Take it a step further and cut your household expenses to save money while you travel!
- Shut the doors. Closed doors slow the spread of fire in a house. Obviously important information for when you’re home. But, if you’re on vacation, those closed doors might slow the spread of fire, giving neighbors a chance to notify the fire department and perhaps save more of your home.
- Adjust the thermostat. Traveling in the heat of summer, turn the thermostat up — we set our house at 78 degrees fahrenheit — and run your air conditioning less while you’re gone. Traveling in winter? Lower your heat and save money that way. We set our heat at 58 degrees during winter travel. NOTE: When traveling in winter, increase the heat 2 degrees at a time to get back up to temperature so that you don’t trigger the expensive emergency heat. According to TLC, the air conditioner/heat pump is the most expensive appliance you own, running at an average cost of $1.50/hour. Adjusting the temperature will help you save money!
- Unplug appliances you don’t need. Obviously, the refrigerator needs to run even during vacation, but most other appliances in your house don’t. Unplug the washer, dryer, unnecessary lamps, toaster, coffee maker, alarm clocks (remove backup batteries as well), TV, entertainment systems, and computer equipment while you’re away. “Vampire power,” when household appliances are plugged in on standby ready for use, accounts for 5-10% of the average homeowner’s electric bill. Unplug during vacation and save a few dollars. Besides, if your home is struck by lightning (as mine was last October), anything not plugged in will survive the surge of electrical current.
- Turn down the water heater. Many water heaters have a vacation mode that make this task simple. If not, just turn the temperature down 20 degrees and save money while you’re gone. Otherwise, the heat cycle runs as if you are home, heating water that isn’t being used.
- Check for vacation holds. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions can be suspended during vacation travel, extending the contract beyond the original end date. Some cable companies offer the same option. All this means you save money on services you don’t need during vacation! One quick call or a couple clicks of the mouse online is all it takes.