Five energy-saving things to do before you go on holiday

23 July 2014 | Rachel England


Half the fun of a holiday is leaving behind the niggling worries that get in the way of everyday life, so the last thing you want to be thinking about as you sip cocktails from a sun lounger is whether or not you should have turned the heating off before you left home. These five simple tasks will keep your house energy efficient while you’re away – and will save you some cash in the process (which means more cocktails by the pool!).  

Turn down the boiler

Chances are, if you’re heading off for a summer holiday, you’re not relying on your boiler for heating. However, you’re probably still using your boiler for hot water, so turn the water heating setting right down before you leave – there’s no point your boiler working hard to keep water hot if there’s no-one there to use it! If you’re jetting off for some winter sun, though, it’s important to take steps to prevent pipes from freezing. In which case, program your boiler so the central heating comes on for an hour or two each day, just to keep things ticking over. 

Unplug everything

Yep, pretty much everything. TVs, stereos, computers – even routers – continue to draw an electrical charge while they’re on standby, so spend a few minutes unplugging your appliances at the wall before you head off. For a longer-term gain, invest in a special energy-saving extension lead that will allow you to kill all your appliances in one fell swoop, so you can make savings when you head to bed every day, instead of only when you head abroad once a year.

Set an automatic timer

People don’t want their houses to look unoccupied while they’re on holiday because it makes them a target for burglars, so it’s tempting to leave a few lights on to make it look like someone’s home. This is a big waste of energy though, and even the slowest burglar will quickly wise up to the fact that the same lights have been left on 24/7. Instead, buy an automatic timer which will flick lamps and other appliances on and off at pre-programmed times. This gives the illusion of someone being home as well as saving money on unnecessary lighting.

Give your fridge a holiday, too

Fridges and freezers are massive energy guzzlers, so if you’re heading away for an extended trip, consider using up all your food, giving your fridge a clean and turning the thing off. If you’re not going to be away long enough to warrant doing that, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the appliance’s energy consumption. Firstly, your fridge freezer is more efficient when it’s well-stocked. The easiest way to make sure this happens – without buying food that’ll just end up spoiling – is to cram it full of jugs and bowls filled with water. Once you’ve done this, turn the setting down so it’s at a slightly warmer temperature – a couple of degrees can reduce energy use by as much as 25%.

Draw the curtains

Blinds and curtains are hugely underrated energy-saving devices, helping to keep the warmth in during winter and the heat out in the summer. So if you don’t want to come back to a hot stuffy home, make sure curtains are drawn and the blinds pulled down before you leave (and this of course has the added bonus of keeping prying eyes out of your vacant property).

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