When going away for vacation for a few weeks, what steps can I take to reduce the energy and water my home will use while I'm gone?

I've already asked about what to do with a refrigerator, but I'm wondering what other strategies there are.

  • Unplug everything that doesn't need to be running or on standby (WiFi, TV, PC, washing machine, etc). If you live in a house and have modern heating, turn down the heat as far as possbible. And how should your home use water while you're gone?
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 14:27
  • @Erik I have a water softener that runs on a cycle. I'll turn that off.
    – LShaver
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 1:48
  • If you don't want to have totally cold water when you return home you could lower the temperature setting for the hot water heater. If you have air conditioning & you turn it off at the main power supply you may need to wait 10-20 minutes before you can use it afterwards, as some AC units need to be warmed up before use.
    – Fred
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


If the heating is turned off in wintertime, the water-heater might be enough to keep the water pipes from freezing. Otherwise, the water can be turned off, the pipes drained with open faucets, and both heater and water-heater turned off. In fact the water might have to be turned off at the street because of the high-pressure it has coming from the street.

If the air-conditioning is turned off in summertime, several windows should be cracked open to avoid moisture build-up in the house. The window frames can be drilled and pegged slightly open. And I wonder about water in the toilets contributing to moisture build-up in the house.

For lights left on, the new 40-watt glass-bulb LED's at 450 lumens only use 4.5 watts. Well, LED's don't like too much heat while CFL's don't like too much cold.

Obviously, if the refrigerator can be emptied then turn it off.

  • 1
    And if you turn off the fridge, wedge the doors open. Otherwise every interior surface will be covered in mold. It's impossible to get all the water out since much of it is behind the interior skins. Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 5:39

The biggest thing by far is turning off/down heating and air conditioning.

Note that in some climates/jurisdictions, your insurance may not pay out for damage from any cause (not just frozen pipes) if the house wasn't heated while you were away. Mine says >15C at all times, which some parts aren't even overnight when I'm at home. I used to have a frost thermostat that satisfied a previous policy, but was incompatible with my more efficient heating system.

If you want to leave any lights on, use a timer, though they don't use much less power than modern LED lights.

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