10 Ways To Have Mother Nature Thank You This Summer

The summer is nigh and vacations are being planned. Whether it’s a family trip to a local beach, visiting relatives out of state, or a trip to Disneyland, families everywhere are eager to get out and enjoy this great time of year. With endless lists and preparations to take care of, it’s easy to let energy efficiency take a back seat. But be proactive! A few simple modifications can really make a difference.

Below are ten ways to do your part to help the environment and add a little cash back to your wallet… cash you can even use for your next vacation! Cha-ching!


Before you leave…

Before you  load the kids in the car and run off to the happiest place on Earth, consider tackling some easy alterations within your house that can keep you from spending on services that you won’t be using while you’re away.

I – Unplug any unneeded appliances. This may sound like it’s a waste of time, or that it simply couldn’t amount to much savings. However, most corded items continue to draw a small amount of electricity even where they aren’t turned on. This is because they need to be ready to start up when needed. These small amounts may seem inconsequential, but they can really add up. Consider walking around and unplugging any non-essential equipment (laptops, desk fans, TVs, and toasters) prior to leaving, or using power strips not only for one-button control, but also to protect expensive items during electric surges.

II – A hot water heater can account for nearly 15% of a home’s energy consumption. If you have a standard, upright water heater, it needs to keep the water at a preset temperature to be ready for on-demand use. Unnecessary hot water use can add up, so why bother heating the water when no one is there to use it? A lot of gas and electricity is needed to keep this appliance functioning, so plan on reducing the temperature to the lowest setting, or even turning it off entirely if you’ll be away for a long time. Keep in mind, it’s smart to let  the water run for a while when you return in order to flush out any contaminants or minerals that may have settled due to lack of use.

III – While lowering your thermostat during the winter helps control your heat costs, raising it during summer months can help keep unneeded air conditioning costs from skyrocketing. It’s best to set it at 85 degrees to prevent the cooling system from turning on while you’re away, or turn it off completely. Be prepared for a hot house upon return, and do consider any pets and their comfort if you decide to leave them at home.

IV – Keeping blinds or curtains closed not only prevents intruders from having a sneak peek into your home, but it saves on energy too. Shut blinds can help to keep a home cooler in the summer by blocking vast amounts of heat and sunlight from getting in.

IV – Think about unplugging your refrigerator if you’re going to be gone a long time. This appliance uses a tremendous amount of electricity to keep food cold. If you’re low on groceries during the time immediately prior to your vacation, use up what you have and refrain from buying more, which will likely spoil while you’re gone. You can also simply raise the temperature a few degrees, which will not harm refrigerated or frozen food, and will help save energy.


While you’re there…

The savings don’t stop once you pull out of your driveway. You can also plan your trip to be energy efficient! Instead of having a standard vacation where you use and abuse most amenities, be conscious of your actions and try making it a learning experience for your family while you’re at it.

I – Stay in an environmentally-friendly hotel. Search online for hotels that were either built green or have been retrofitted to be energy efficient. Look for establishments that proudly mention that they recycle, are energy efficient, and/or use renewable sources such as wind or solar.

II – Travel light. You might want to consider buying your groceries when you arrive, instead of loading your car to the energy-efficiency-defeating brim. Take a look at the weather forecast prior to packing to avoid bringing clothes you won’t need. Remove any winter items from your trunk, such as shovels, sand bags, or salt, to lighten the load.

III – Drive instead of fly. Enjoy more bonding time with your family and help save the earth at the same time. Flying uses a tremendous amount of energy and causes much more pollution than a drive. While it may not get you there as quickly, the cost savings of driving and minimum emissions make it an easy decision.

IV – Practice what you preach. While in the hotel, always reuse bedding and towels. Turn off the lights when you’ll be enjoying an evening on the town. Reuse plastic bags that you traveled with for hotel room garbage, take shorter showers, and keep the heating and cooling system off when you’re away from the room.

V – Plan for environmentally sound activities. Consider renting bicycles for the family when sightseeing, and instill a sense of health and exercise to go along with the environmental benefits of not driving to each place. Search for exhibits or attractions in the area that promote green practices, or take brief courses that show how their business operates.

There you have it… ten painless strategies to embark on the most sustainable getaway of your life. Vacations are always fun, but can certainly be expensive.  Put in a little effort, save a few dollars, and know that you’re helping keep the environment clean while you and your family enjoy the sun. And when you realize that your trip was a success, tell your friends to try the same tricks. Learning from each other makes for sound and eco-friendly decisions.

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