If you are planning to travel this winter, consider turning off and unplugging electronics while you are away from home to save energy and reduce utility bills:
Any appliance with a standby or "sleep" mode is never truly turned off. Desktop computers, printers, TVs, cable boxes, DVD players, alarm clocks, radios, and any appliance that is operated with a remote control - even some high-end washers and dryers have such features now! If an appliance has a glowing standby light or an instant-on feature, it is drawing power even when turned off. Plugging these items into a surge protector will keep them safe in case of a lightning strike or other power surge. It will also make it convenient for you to turn them really-and-truly-off when they are not in use.
Appliances with clocks or timers, such as coffee machines, food processors, microwaves, and stand-mixers, draw power constantly to keep these features working even when the item is not in use.
Anything that charges or has an external power supply, such as your laptop, tablet, cordless phones, smartphone chargers, power toothbrushes, and similar devices, draws power any time it is plugged in, even if a charge is complete. Unplug all your chargers before you leave town.
Modems and routers can be unplugged to save energy and keep your network secure while you are away. Why keep the Wi-Fi live in your house when there is no one there to use it?
Hot water heaters use a significant amount of energy. Those that operate on gas can be switched to the "pilot" setting in your absence, while electric ones can be turned off at the breaker. If you do not want to turn off your unit completely, you can at least turn down the temperature setting while your house in unoccupied. Just make sure to turn it back up before you try to shower upon your return!
Lights left on can make a house look occupied, but it is not necessary to leave a light on during your whole vacation. Instead, set a light on a timer, especially if you will be coming home in the dark.
Furnaces should not be turned off completely during the winter months, but you can set your thermostat at a significantly cooler temperature while you are away to save on heating costs.
You may be surprised how many small appliances are steadily sipping electricity in your home. Unplugging appliances when you are away from home will give you a sense of the impact they make on your bills over time. You may even decide to make powering-down part of your every day routine.