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Are you planning an extended summer vacation–one week, two weeks, or more? Before leaving town, there are several simple steps you can take to save energy in your home–and save money. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offers the following tips:

  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater. Water heating accounts for up to 20 percent of annual energy costs in a Minnesota home. No sense heating the water if you are not home to use it. Instead of the recommended setting of 120 degrees F, lower the temperature 10-20 degrees or turn the control knob to “vacation mode.” Read more (http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-water-heating) to cut water heating bills.
  • 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. Learn more (http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-programmable-thermostats) about programmable thermostats.
  • Reduce standby power loads. Standby power, or the electric power consumed by electronics and appliances when they are switched off or in standby mode, costs the average U.S. household $100 per year. You can cut standby power by using power strips and turning them off when electronics and appliances are not in use, unplugging electronics when not in use, and using ENERGY STAR(TM) products, which use less standby power. Some appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers, you will want to keep on. Read more. (http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/3-easy-tips-reduce-your-standby-power-loads)
  • Keep window shades (http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-windows) and curtains drawn to help keep the house cool from the afternoon sun.
  • Make sure all lights are turned off. For lights on a security timer, use energy-efficient CFL or LED lights.

For a range of energy-saving tips, visit the DOE Energy Saver website (http://energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver)