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Leaving for a trip this winter?

MANITOBA HYDRO RELEASE

Winter is always a popular time for a vacation from the cold and snowy weather in Manitoba. However, unless your appliances go on vacation too, you likely will return home to an energy bill that is just as high as if you had never left. But, luckily, there are steps that can be taken to avoid this scenario.

Set your thermostat at 55C. This is low enough to save you money, but high enough that your water pipes won’t freeze and burst. If you are going to be away for several weeks, you may want to consider asking a neighbour to check your house every so often to ensure that your furnace continues to run.

Another option is to install a device called a “winter watchman.” It plugs into any outlet, and then a lamp gets plugged into it. The winter watchman is temperature sensitive, so if the room temperature drops below the set point, the lamp will turn on, and alert your neighbour. Some units can send messages via phone as well. These may be for sale in your local hardware store.

Unplug any electronic device or appliance that doesn’t need to be on. Many of these items continue to draw electricity, even when they are not being used. The average home can have as many as 25 devices consuming electricity while occupants are away. Clocks, timers, auto-on features, chargers and the extra fridge all continue to work while you are away. Unplugging appliances also has the added bonus of preventing damage in case of a power surge.

Security is also very important to think about if you are leaving, whether it is for a weekend getaway, or a month’s vacation. Be sure to give your house a lived-in look while you are away. Install a motion detector light outside, and use a timer on indoor lights. It is best to use a timer that can be set to a random pattern so that the lights are not turned off and on at exactly the same time every day.

If you are planning on being away for more than a few days, hire someone to shovel your walk, and always, no matter how long or short your trip is, have someone stop by to pick up your mail and newspaper.

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