How to Save on Energy While You’re on Vacation

While you will always inevitably have to think about some things from back home while you’re away basking in the Caribbean sun, you will not have to worry about wasted energy costs.

Vacations are amazing. In fact, I could use one right now. But I digress. Although vacations are wonderful and fun and great, they can definitely take a toll on your savings account – especially if you have a whole family to take with you.

When you leave the house for vacation or extended period of time, you have to worry about a number of things. The stress doesn’t end just because you’re going on vacation. Who is going to take care of the pets? Do I have food that could go bad and then leave me unpleasantly surprised when I return? What if the pipes freeze? All legitimate concerns.

While you will always inevitably have to think about some things from back home while you’re away basking in the Caribbean sun, you will not have to worry about wasted energy costs. Follow these simple steps before you board the plane and you could have a little extra cash in your pocket for something more exciting (like haggling with the locals!) while you’re gone.

Curtains and Blinds

Save heat energy by going around your house (it will take two seconds) and making sure all the curtains and blinds on the windows are shut. This helps heat from coming in during the summer and prevents heat loss in the winter.

Leave Lights On

When my family takes a trip, we always make sure to leave a couple lights on throughout the house so it gives an illusion that someone’s home. This can deter any potential burglars from stopping by, so it’s best to leave at least one light on when you’re away.

I know what you’re thinking – how in the world does leaving lights on save on energy? The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t. But, if you put those few lights on an automatic timer, to only turn on at certain times of the day or night, you will be saving a lot more than you would if they were not on a timer and keeping your house safe.

Unplug Energy Vampires

Vampire devices are electronics and appliances that are using energy even when they are off. The average American household has at least 40 of these throughout the home – wowza! Do yourself a favor and walk around to quickly unplug these before you leave. Doing so will save on unnecessary electricity costs while you’re away.


If you want to talk about high electricity usage, the refrigerator can be compared to a v8 diesel truck, which are gas hog beasts all on their own. So, back to refrigerators. They take up way too much energy, and even more if they are only half full.

Before vacation, we usually try to keep less food in our fridge in anticipation of our departure. Why not take this opportunity to completely clean it out? Get rid of old food and condiments and unplug everything so you can start fresh upon your return. If you’re going to do this, be sure to leave the doors open so it doesn’t get start to smell and mold.

An alternative to unplugging your refrigerator would be to turn the temperatures up. If you turn the refrigerator up to 42 degrees and the freezer up to 5 degrees, it will still be enough preserve the food that’s in there and still save energy.

Water Heater

Before jetting off to your destination, remember to go into the basement (or wherever it’s located) and shut off the circuit to the water heater. We only think about the luxuries of actually having hot water when it goes cold in the middle of the shower. This is not something that we often think about as consuming energy (it takes electricity to heat the water), but it consumes 25% of the energy you use in your home. Even when we’re not using the hot water. Since we don’t need hot water when we’re not in our house to use it, do yourself some justice and flip the switch before you leave for vacation.


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Vampire (Gadgets) Are Coming For You. And Yes, You Should Be Scared.

I’m not sure about you, but once October hits, it’s time to start seriously thinking about planning one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween. It’s not every day that we get to dress up looking like whatever we want and not get weird looks for it. Kids are happily roaming neighborhoods, adults like to have fun with it, and of course there are plenty of haunted hayrides to attend. But, did you know that some of your household devices are always dressed for the occasion? They are called vampire devices.

I’m not sure about you, but once October hits, it’s time to start thinking about planning for one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween. It’s not every day that we get to dress up looking like whatever we want and not get weird looks for it.

Kids are happily roaming neighborhoods, adults like to have fun with it, and of course, there are plenty of haunted hayrides to attend. But, did you know that some of your household devices are always dressed for the occasion? These gadgets are called “vampires.” Much like a real one, vampire devices have a way of slowly taking all the electricity from your home whether they are “on,” “off,” or in “standby” mode.

Yikes! Think of all the electronics you have in your home that stay in standby mode when not in use? In that state, they may be considered “off” but are still sucking electricity. I can think of a couple that I have in my own room: my laptop and digital picture frame. From there, the list goes on as you explore your own house. For now, we will take a look at some of the most popular vampire devices so you’ll be more aware of what exactly could be lurking in your bedroom at night. Fear not, there are solutions.

The TV

If you have a plasma TV, you may want to think of upgrading to a more energy efficient kind, such as a LED TV. The reason? Plasma screens suck up A LOT of electricity—they’re not very efficient. Even if you watch TV for four hours per day, the screen is still using electricity during the other 20 when it’s turned off.

Cable Box

Even though you might turn off your cable box when you’re not using it (emphasis on the might—because let’s face it, most of us don’t), it’s still using power when you’re asleep…24/7 in fact. The displays of channel numbers don’t just magically appear there; rather they require light (which consumes electricity) for illumination, along with other internal parts that are always energized. As outlined in this article, cable boxes are certainly not energy efficient and are one of the top consumers of electricity in your home. By unplugging the box when the TV is not in use, you have the potential to save a lot of that hard-earned cash.

DVD Player

When I supposedly “turn off” my DVD player, a little red light appears to let me know that it’s off, as opposed to a green light when it’s on. However, it’s not really off because the light is on. Does that make sense? Power is still flowing into the DVD player because if it weren’t, the light wouldn’t still be on. Most DVD players only get used once in a while anyways, so when you’re not using it, unplug the darn thing! You can easily plug it back in the next time you want to watch The Notebook for the millionth time.

Laptop or Desktop Computers

Whoa. I know it may be hard to believe, but there are actually some times during the day/night that we aren’t using our computers…GASP! I didn’t know it was possible. When a desktop computer is left on all day, the screen may go black, however the computer is still working to power all the applications and programs that are running in the background. Even on “sleep” mode it’s still using energy. And, when it’s plugged in charging all night? That’s unnecessary power that it’s using. Be smart about how you take care of your computers – it’s best just to shut them down when you’re not using them.

Game Consoles

This is another big one. Along with the DVD player, there is still a green light illuminated when you turn your X-Box off (red for a PlayStation). As I said above, it takes electricity to make it light up. When you think you’re turning game consoles off, think again. They’re actually just in standby mode. To fully turn it off and stop power from flowing to it, hit the other off-switch, usually located on the back of the device.

Cell Phone Chargers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When your cell phone is plugged in for hours on end, it’s not only damaging the phone, but it’s wasting electricity as well. Furthermore, when the phone isn’t plugged into the charger, it’s still using electricity. In this case, it’s best to just unplug the charger from the wall when you’re not using it to charge your phone.

Don’t be too fearful of these vampires, though. If we band together and take action against them, we WILL succeed. To prevent our homes from further attacks, get into the habit of unplugging these things. Buying a power strip will also do you some good, too. That way, you’ll only have to flip one switch instead of dealing with multiple cords. Also…garlic.





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Energy Saving Advice for People Who Can’t Get Away From Technology

It seems as though technology innovation is moving at a faster-than-ever pace, and keeping up with the latest trends can be important to some. If you’re like me, always on the computer or laptop, or simply perusing the different apps you have on your phone, here are some tips for you to save on energy consumption while doing so.

I’m sure you’re already well aware of the two new iPhone 6’s that recently hit the market. I’m usually not one to go out and buy the latest new things, but I did get this one. After all, the phone I had before was sooo 2010.

It seems as though technology innovation is moving at a faster-than-ever pace, and keeping up with the latest trends can be important to some. If you’re like me—always on the computer or laptop, or simply perusing the different apps you have on your phone—here are some tips for you to save on energy consumption while doing so.

Take Inventory

What do you have vs. what do you actually use? A good example – I am an Apple user, so I have an iPhone, MacBook Pro Laptop, an iPad, and an iPod. Phew, that’s a long list. I’m exhausted just talking about it. But, imagine how much energy they consume if they are left running when not in use? I am never running these four devices at once, so when they aren’t being used, guess what they’re doing? With the exception of my phone, all other devices are turned OFF or in SLEEP MODE when not being used. Know what purpose each device serves, and only use them for what they are intended for. The longer the batteries for your devices stay charged, the less often you will have to charge them. Which ultimately means saving electricity and money.

tech stuff - energy saving advice

Re-evaluate Your “Need”

This can be a scary concept to grasp for all you folks (and myself) who are constantly connected to everything through our devices. With the emergence of popular apps like SnapChat, Instagram, Tinder, and Candy Crush, it’s almost impossible to stay off our phones, as that is the only way to access many of these apps. However, we must resist the urge to have multiple devices running at once and choose between the Internet or phone apps. How badly do we really NEED to be SnapChatting, posting to Facebook, and checking email at the same time? Pick one over the other, and when you’re done using the device, it’s now acceptable to pick up your phone and start snapping away. Remember, the less time you are glued to your devices, the less energy they are expending.

using one device - energy saving advice

Play with Settings

Turn your “power saver mode” on, and make sure the brightness of your device isn’t at its maximum. Close out your apps or programs after you’re done with them and ALWAYS remember to unplug any cords from your computer when they aren’t in use. By doing these things, your device will get some extended battery life, making it so that you don’t have to “plug-in” as often.

settings - energy saving advice


Deciding when to charge your device can be a challenge. Especially if you run out of power multiple times a day. Do I charge my phone when it still has 30% battery so it will last the whole night, or do I let it die half way through the evening? The struggle is real, people.

For the most part, though, I only charge my devices when they absolutely need to be charged. It’s also important to turn them off when charging so the device isn’t using and taking in energy at the same time. This can leave the device as confused as we were when Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” music video came out. Wait to unplug your device until it’s fully charged so the battery doesn’t start creating a memory that will eventually cause it to drain faster.

And finally, I know it’s tempting, but try NOT to charge your devices overnight. It doesn’t really take a full 8 hours to charge a phone or computer, does it? At maximum, it only takes a couple of hours. So, before you waste all that energy and electricity, be sure it’s sufficiently charged before you crawl into bed – the last thing we want is to miss our morning alarm because the device wasn’t charged enough.

charging - energy saving advice



After your technology is good and charged for the day, don’t forget to unplug the chargers from the wall. No matter what the device is (laptop, phone, tablet, camera), this is an essential step in the conservation of energy. And also the conservation of dollar bills in your pocket.

unplug - energy saving advice

Being obsessed with technology is a country wide pandemic, especially for people who grew up with the stuff or have to use it for work. We are all aware and fully capable of understanding the fact that technology is here to stay. However, there are ways to curb our addiction, as expressed above. If we cut back a little on when we use technology and consciously think about how we use it, it could greatly benefit our lives. Not only will we save energy (which equates to cash!), but we might find a healthier balance between our online and actual social lives.

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5 Simple & Clever Ways to Minimize Your Energy Usage

When it comes to consuming energy, we Americans are pretty darn good at it. But, with a few simple tricks, you can minimize your energy usage and drop your electricity bill without feeling like you've even tried.

When it comes to consuming energy, we Americans are pretty darn good at it. But, with a few simple tricks, you can minimize your energy usage and drop your electricity bill without feeling like you’ve even tried. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you can remember to consistently follow a couple of these easy methods, you will be golden.

1. Go Out…

Anywhere besides your house. Using someone else’s energy (or none at all) is more enjoyable, anyways. Try to go outside where most of the activities are free, or go to the local library to get work done. Enjoy an evening walk with your family instead of vegging out in front of the TV. Go grab a bite to eat. Go to the gym after work instead of coming home to binge-watch Netflix (guilty). Better yet, here are some awesome activities in New England that are coming up with most of them being at little to no cost. The less time you are in your house doing things like watching movies, cooking, showering, or playing video games, the smaller of a number you will see on your monthly electric bill. Limit time spent doing these activities – or simply go some place else to do them!


2. Cover Up

If you find yourself getting cold (which is quite possible now that the chilly New England weather has arrived), don’t reach for the thermostat. Instead, do as mom always told you and grab a sweatshirt, socks, or blanket. These will get you warm quick so you won’t be as inclined to touch the thermostat!


3. Turn ‘Em Off

This is a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to forget in the midst of our busy days. But, we need to remember to turn lights off when we leave the room. Often times I will be in a rush to get to work on time and forget to shut off my bedroom lights. Not just one light, but three: the overhead light, closet light, and bureau lamp. What happens now? They stay on – ALL day. Simply put, it’s a waste of money and energy to keep lights on when you’re not using the room. By making this a habit, you’ll minimize your energy usage and also put more dollars back into your pocket.



4. Use the Microwave

If you’re only cooking for a couple people, heating up yesterday’s leftovers, or making a side dish, consider using the microwave instead of the stove or oven. Did you know that microwaves use 30-80% less energy than regular ovens do? That’s pretty impressive, and definitely worth the savings when you’re cooking small portions. Since microwaves use high-frequency waves, it also takes way less time to cook things. It’s a win-win! You get to eat faster (thus being more productive) AND save money on your electricity bill at the same time!

Don’t believe me that you can make delicious meals in the microwave? Or just need some inspiration to get you started? Here are some recipes that you can use throughout the whole day. Some them look so good that I might even try one out for myself tonight!


5. Cook Consciously

Whenever you’re cooking on the stove, remember to put a lid on it! Did you know that without a cover on your pot/pan, it uses about 60% more energy than if it was covered? So, next time you’re boiling potatoes or simmering you’re favorite side dish, think of that fact.





*Photo by Steve A. Johnson / CC BY

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2 Tips on How to Minimize your Energy Consumption this Fall and Winter

It is never too early to start preparing your home for colder temperatures. Here are some tips on how to get ahead of the weather so you can save as much as possible on that pesky electric bill.

Today when I woke up it was a balmy 36 degrees out. Yes, you heard me right.  It seems like just last week we were enjoying the warm August temperatures, but we can surely kiss those goodbye, now. In the Northeast,  this cold Fall morning only means one thing (aside from apple picking, fall foliage, and hiking, of course): the winter is creeping up on us.

I can still remember two years ago, on Halloween weekend of 2012, to be exact, when we were graced with about 8 inches of snow. Sounds impossible for October, right? Think again. If there’s anything I’ve learned from living in New England my whole life, it’s the fact that the weather can change from one extreme to another- in an instant.

I was home from college for the weekend, just in time for my drive back to Vermont, it started to snow.  Even on the best of days, in the best of conditions this ride through the mountains was not particularly pleasant.  When it snows it is worse.

Even though I had a couple days to plan for the snow to know I neglected to put snow tires on my car.  This  was ultimately a bad decision-as this was one wild trip back to Vermont.  I guess I didn’t want to think about what the snow meant – the start of what was probably going to be another long, cold winter.

What does my car story have to do with your electric bill?  When it comes to weather-procrastination doesn’t work, Mother Nature hath no fury!   By the time it is legal to put studded snow tires on your car hopefully your are already preparing your home for winter.  If Halloween hits and the air conditioners are still in your windows, well, you get the point.

During the fall and winter, consumers, especially those living in the Northeast, will likely see an increase in the amount of electricity we use.   Remember the winter of 2013/14? The lower 48 got hit with a worse winter than normal. Southern states felt the chilly temperatures and even experienced ice and snowy conditions for the first time in years.  Both energy and weather forecasters alike are saying this winter will be much like last year.   Colder weather and likely higher energy costs are right around the corner.

It is never too early to start preparing your home for colder temperatures.   Here are some tips on how to get ahead of the weather so you can save as much as possible on that pesky electric bill.

1.    Turn Down the Temps…

  • Swap a blanket (or two) for lower thermostat settings. According to,  “by turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”
  • Avoid over-heating your water heater. Most people don’t take 140 degree showers, so just by turning the temperature down, you can save big-time on your electricity bill. Plus, you won’t even feel the difference and it will prevent scalding yourself with hot water!

2.    Windows

  • Cover the windows that don’t get sun with heavy-duty curtains.
  • For windows that get nice, natural light, leave the curtains open
  • Seal drafty windows with a plastic covering so the cold doesn’t get in

(I get it, plastic over the windows…eww…looks awful.  But hey this is great opportunity to go curtain shopping and get something stylish and practical.)

  • Caulk around windows that may have air leaks. If you know the window is drafty, do this before the weather hits so you can stay warmer year-round.
  • If the spaces around your doors or behind cabinets and attics are not insulated, now would be a good time to fill the cracks. A poorly insulated house can result in more heat loss. Make this a weekend project and you will save money in the long run.

Again, folks: We WILL be having another bad winter. Electricity rates WILL rise. Don’t get caught saying you wish you would have been more prepared for the winter when that late-fall snow storm takes you by surprise. By following a few of these simple tips, you can get your home ready before the freezing temperatures arrive. It can also teach you some basic consumption practices for the future  You DO NOT want to be like me, getting caught in a snow storm with nowhere to turn. Small changes can add up, so don’t waste another minute!

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Who Else Wants to Know How Much Your Appliances Are Costing You?

It may come as a shock to you, but now technology is more advanced than ever...which inevitably comes at cost to you. But how much, exactly?

It may come as a shock to you, but now that technology is more advanced than ever, we have more gadgets and appliances in our homes than we know what to do with. No matter where you look in my house, it seems as though there is something you have to “turn on” or “plug-in” in every corner of every room.

Granted, most of these things are necessary for our hectic and busy American lives, but do you know how much it’s costing you to use all of those gadgets and appliances every day? Before diving into some of these mind-blowing facts, we will need to get the relevant terms correct.

If you don’t already know, a kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit used to measure electricity consumption by electricity suppliers. 1,000 watts is equal to 1 kWh, which is equal to 60 minutes. When supply companies price your household electricity supply, they do it based on cents per kWh. So, for each hour that your appliance is running, you can technically calculate how much money it will cost you.

Here are the formulas for that:

Daily Consumption Costs:

*Wattage of Appliance x Hours Used Per Day = Daily kW Consumption

Daily kWh Consumption /1,000 x kW Rate = Cost Per Day

Annual Consumption Costs:

Wattage of Appliance x Hours Used Per Day x Days Used Per Year = Yearly kW Consumption

Yearly kWh Consumption / 1,000 x kW Rate = Cost Per Year

  • Keep in mind that (1 kW = 1,000 Watts)
  • To find “kW Rate,” simply refer to the supply portion of your latest electric bill.

To help you better understand how this calculation works, I will take four popular appliances from my own home that are used on a daily basis and calculate the yearly cost of running them. By doing a quick Google search on the brand and model of each appliance, I was able to find how many watts each appliance uses. To help you get a better sense of the monsters I’m about to analyze, look at the pictures below.






For demonstration purposes, I will pretend the electricity supply rate is $0.10 cents per kWh.

Appliance Watts x Hours Per Day x Days Used Per Year / Convert to kWh x kW Rate = Cost Per Year
Microwave 1,300 x .25 x 340 / 1,000 x 0.10 = $110.50
Oven 3,500 x 1 x 335 / 1,000 x 0.10 = $1,172.50
TV – 46” LED HDTV 166 x 4 x 350 / 1,000 x 0.10 = $232.40
Hairdryer 1,875 x .25 x 365 / 1,000 x 0.10 = $171.09

The results are so interesting to me! I never would have thought that my hairdryer uses almost as much electricity to operate as my TV does. Just by doing a little digging around to find out the wattage of each appliance, I was able to see the numbers that I could never visualize before this exercise. Now, I have a better picture of what the gadgets in my house are costing me.

Like I said earlier, everyone will have appliances with different wattages, as well as different consumption habits. For example, your household might only use the TV for an hour a day but use the oven for two. Each house will be different, which is why this simple exercise can be personalized for everyone. If you would like more general information about how much your appliances are costing you, check out General Electric’s Data Visualization page.

I hope this helps you visualize your energy usage, especially since electricity is not exactly a tangible thing…

*Note: appliance wattage will be different depending on model and brand of product.

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Less Shower Time = A More Efficient Life

There's nothing better than nice hot shower in the morning to get your day started in the right direction. But, after a while, that can start to significantly put a hole in your wallet. By simply changing a few small habits, we can have a more efficient, productive every-day life.

If you’re like me, a nice hot shower is what wakes you up in the morning. Taking showers can be an energizing and relaxing activity, and they also help our physical and emotional well-being. However, is it really necessary to lounge around in the shower for more than a few minutes?

Probably not—and we can get our deep thinking done anywhere. Besides saving time, here are some ways that cutting down our precious shower time and frequency can deliver unexpected benefits.

Saving Water

Did you know that on average, we use a whopping 2.5 gallons of water per minute? Yikes! That means that a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of (hot) water. That’s taking dollars out of your pocket, as well as wasting water and time. By reducing the length of your showers, you will be saving water and protecting Mother Earth. You’ll also start seeing savings on your water bill. It’s a win-win!

More Time to Do What Matters

We are all guilty of it, including myself. Sometimes, it can be hard to not take two showers in a day. Once in the morning and once after going to the gym – I get it, it happens. Nonetheless, if we tried to stick to ONE shower a day, we could have more time to spend on doing things that matter most, like catching up with family or taking the dog for a quick walk. We could also have more time to complete our daily to-do lists before the sun goes down.

Energy Savings

Finally, limiting your shower time can significantly impact your electricity bill as well. Whenever you cut your hot water use, you are saving energy and saving money. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra cash at the end of the year?

My point isn’t intended to deprive you of your morning luxury: rather, it is to inform you of how cutting off just a few short minutes can benefit you financially. So, I challenge you to break the habit. Try to keep your showers to 5 minutes or less. If you have to, buy a cheap timer to let you know when it’s been too long. In these tough economic times, every little bit can help. I’ve broken my habit—can you do it too?

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