National Utility Scam Awareness Day: Stay safe with these tips

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November 15 is National Utility Scam Awareness Day, and we’re proud to join forces with more than 100 gas, electric and water companies across the country and Canada to combat scams and scammers.

Today and every day, we want to remind customers to stay alert and pay close attention when dealing with any person or interface claiming to be, or be associated, with PSEG Long Island to avoid falling victim to a scam.

Remember and share these tell-tale signs of utility scams, and know what to do if you suspect you’ve been targeted by a scammer, to keep yourself, friends and family safe.

Knowing the signs:

Scammers claiming to be from PSEG Long Island will often call or email a customer with a warning that service is going to be shut off due to delinquent bills. To rectify this, scammers them tell customers to purchase a Green Dot Money Pak pre-paid debit card or arrange for a transfer via MoneyGram. We’ll never ask our customers to take either of these actions, as we don’t accept payments by pre-paid debit cards or through MoneyGram or similar transfers.

Instead, we offer a variety of payment options to our customers, including through MyAccount, text, phone, direct pay, by mail, and others. Plus, our customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive a written notice on their bill at least 15 days in advance.

We also ask customers to be wary of the names on their caller ID. Some scammers have discovered a way to spoof caller ID systems to display “PSEG Long Island,” when in fact the call is coming from an illegitimate service. Not sure if the call is a scam? Any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG Long Island — especially one in which payment is requested — should call us directly at 1-800-490-0025.

How scammers get your money:

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The PhoneTo actually get the money after demanding a payment in full via a pre-paid debit card, scammers suggest a specific store near near the customer’s home to purchase said card. Scammers then instruct the customer to pay cash in order to put the money on the card, and then provide the number on the card. Once the customer provides the card number, the scammer will receive the funds.

When scammers demand payments via MoneyGram, they’ll ask customers to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online, or to a specified location. The funds go into a fraudulent bank account, available for the receiver to pick up in cash.

What you can do:

Be alert, and look for the signs listed above. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including Social Security Numbers or debit or credit card information over the phone unless you are certain you are speaking to a PSEG Long Island representative.

Again, if you’re not sure whether a call is legitimate, hang up and call your local police department to report the activity, or PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0025.

For more tips on how to protect yourself and loved ones from utility scams, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and be sure to familiarize yourself with our scam page on our website.

Home prep for more than just the holiday season

Family cooking together

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and December holidays on its heels, home prep is top of mind for many of our customers. But in between the decorative tablescapes, front door wreathes and other garnishes, are equally important (albeit slightly less pretty) home projects for the upcoming colder months.

Stay snug and save money with these 10 tips and tricks to keep your home as warm as your heart during the holidays and through the winter.

  1. Remember to use the “whole house” approach. Whether you have a fan for forced-hot air systems, or a circulator for hot water units, all homes need electricity to run heat in some capacity. Combine proper equipment and maintenance–like an energy-efficient furnace–with insulation for best results.
  2. Use insulation. Insulating walls, ceilings, floors, hot air ducts, and hot water pipes can reduce the cost of heat significantly.
  3. Invest in a humidifier. Dry air makes you feel colder than moist air. By maintaining home humidity,  you’ll experience personal comfort at a lower thermostat setting, thus saving money and energy.
  4. Clean your filters. By checking and cleaning the filters in your forced-hot air heating system monthly, air will be able to flow with less strain on your system, decreasing the amount of energy needed.
  5. Weatherstrip the cracks. Caulking and weather-stripping cracks in walls and floors, windows and doors will keep the warm air in, and save you money.
  6. Seal whatever you can’t weatherstrip: Storm windows and doors are another quick and easy way to reducing heating costs. By sealing the cracks, you can save  as much as 15 percent on your energy bills during the winter. Try double-glazing and thermopaning windows to minimize heat escape.
  7. Close your doors. Closing doors in unused rooms allows for heat to circulate in a smaller space, thus warming a room faster. It also stops air from circulating as frequently, which helps reduce heat loss.
  8. Rotate your ceiling fan. Change the direction of your ceiling fan seasonally. By setting it counterclockwise in the cooler months at a slower speed, you can drive warm air down and force cold air to rise.
  9. Consider a programmable thermostat. These thermostats will automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home according to your lifestyle. Homeowners can save up to eighteen percent on their yearly heating and cooling costs by properly setting and maintaining their programmable thermostats.
  10. Use space heaters as a last resort. Portable electric heaters can be costly to operate, and dangerous if left on for long periods of time – opt for alternative methods of heating to save money and keep your family safe.

For additional tips on how to stay warm this winter, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and check out our guide to 66 Ways to Save.

Five years after Superstorm Sandy, a lineman reflects on his work

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Kevin Donnelly, a PSEG Long Island crew supervisor.

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which left parts of Long Island and the Rockaways devastated in its aftermath. Recovery efforts were steady, but damage lingered while the linemen of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and other utilities, worked tirelessly to restore power.

“It was tough,” said Kevin Donnelly, now a PSEG Long Island field supervisor, but a LIPA lineman at the time. “And dangerous. A lot of downed wires, broken poles. You really had to be extra cautious.”

The importance and expansion of safety measures, Kevin said, was his number one take-away after Sandy.

IMG_0640“The conditions were so dangerous, it was easy to make a mistake,” he said. “Thankfully I didn’t have any incidents when working after the storm, but there were some close calls. Since then, the crews and I have really focused on making sure conditions are safe before starting any work.”

This lesson was equally important when Kevin and other PSEG Long Island crew members traveled to Tampa, Florida last month to assist in restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. Upon arrival, out-of-state crews sit through an orientation to learn safety procedures specific to the hosting utility–in this case Tampa Electric (TECO).

“Bird dogs”–employees of the hosting utility–bring you to the work site, Kevin explained, and from there, individuals work with the crew with which they traveled to begin work.

“In the case of Tampa, their voltage was the same, so many of the safety measures and procedures they used were identical to ours,” Kevin said, making it an easy transition.

Traveling to assist other crews is an experience like none other, he continued. Greeted by smiling faces, trays of food, and dozens of ‘thank yous,’ linemen like Kevin are often reminded of the importance of their work.

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Residents of Tampa say a prayer for PSEG Long Island crews after Hurricane Irma.

“People are so happy to see you,” he said. “Just a few months ago when we were in Florida, a woman with her two kids stopped by our crew’s site and brought us a brown paper lunch bag with an apple and Gatorade in it.”

When assisting crews during another storm, Kevin recalls being met with hundreds of Styrofoam trays of hot food for the linemen.

“It really means a lot when you’re there,” he said.

Gratitude is a two-way street. During Sandy, crews from across the country were dispatched to Long Island and the Rockaways to help restoration efforts. Both the linemen and residents were grateful for their arrival.

“I was living in Miller Place and foreign crews actually came to my neighborhood and re-energized my house. My family was pretty happy to see them,” he laughed.

Kevin started working in the utility industry in 1986 as a welder for the Glenwood Generating Station in Glenwood Landing. From here, he went on to become a lineman, braving Long Island’s “Storm of the Century” as his first, in 1993.

“I was an apprentice working out of Riverhead, and a lot of the work we were doing was on Dune Road,” he said. “We were climbing poles, cutting wires down, it was some scary stuff. This was the beginning of my storm experience.”

In addition to Florida, Kevin has also traveled to Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the tri-state area to help restore power to those in need after a storm.

But one of his most vivid storm memories?

“Boats floating down the middle of Bayshore Road,” Kevin said of Superstorm Sandy. “I’ve just never seen anything like it,”

 

Bringing STEM education to the classroom and beyond

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PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn with the 2017-18 QIRT STEM Leadership Program students.


Our newly-appointed President and COO Dan Eichhorn is no stranger to the importance of real-world experience within education. An alumnus of Drexel University, Dan participated in the school’s co-operative program, which blends internship opportunities within its five-year curriculum to help students better prepare for the workforce upon graduation.

Discovering professional upward mobility through education is also near and dear to Dan’s heart. As the son of a utility lineman in Philadelphia, Dan saw his father work hard to support his family and was inspired to do the same. After receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Drexel, he continued his education and received his MBA in finance.

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So, it’s no surprise Dan is now one of the leading forces in PSEG Long Island’s partnership with the Queens High School for Information, Research and Technology (QIRT). The program, which began earlier this week, provides students with a full year of STEM curriculum to hone their problem-solving and leadership skills, while introducing them to fundamentals of electric theory. The program brings certified engineers and other professionals within the company to meet with students face-to-face, about twice a week.

“This all springs from PSEG Long Island’s commitment to community involvement,” Dan said during the kick-off event for the program on Oct. 16. “We are working to strengthen the electrical infrastructure, but also to contribute to the places where our customers live and work. This partnership with QIRT was a perfect fit. We are excited to help these young people achieve their goals and I hope that someday I see some of these same faces as I walk through the halls of our offices. ”

Students enrolled in QIRT often come from lower-income backgrounds and many are the first in their families to attend college, so the emphasis on their preparedness is amplified.

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QIRT principal Carl Manalo, left, and PSEG Long Island President & COO Dan Eichhorn, right.

“QIRT strives to prepare its students for success in college and beyond through technology, community and parent partnerships, and enrichment activities,” said QIRT principal Carl Manalo. “I believe that many students don’t truly know what they want to do until they actually hear someone talk about it. And for students growing up in under-served communities, this may be the first time they get that kind of firsthand exposure to the engineering profession.”

We spoke to two students participating in the program about what they hope to learn, and where they see themselves in the future:

Kenisha Sutton

Antoinette Daley

For more photos from the STEM event, click here! And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more stories like this one.

Introducing our newest way to save energy and money – MyEnergy

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October is National Financial Planning Month. Throughout the next couple of weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the programs we offer for residential and small business customers on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But today, we’re excited to announce our newest tool to help customers save money – MyEnergy.

What is MyEnergy?

MyEnergy is a new, online platform accessible through MyAccount, that allows customers to view their energy usage; track energy efficiency; and compare it to that of their neighbors.

How will MyEnergy help me save?

After you’ve filled out your energy profile in MyEnergy through the MyAccount portal (for information on how to register for MyAccount, visit here), you’ll receive detailed information on your personal energy usage. This includes easy-to-read graphs that compare your energy usage to homes similar to your own. MyEnergy will also provide customers with timely tips based upon the season to improve energy efficiency, as well as information on energy-saving progress. The reports are available 24/7 within the MyEnergy portal.

What other services does MyEnergy offer?

In addition to the reports, MyEnergy allows users to view their energy consumption month over month, and view how they use energy by activity. For the most accurate representation of your energy usage, be sure to complete your home energy profile.

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MyEnergy also provides a saving tips plan with actions you can take to save energy, and an estimate of how much money the action will save you over the course of a year.

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Have a question, data correction or request about your reports? Email MyEnergyLI@pseg.com or call 1-800-692-2626 (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

What else can I do to save money on my energy bills?

MyEnergy is just one of many programs we offer to help our customers save energy and money.

We also offer a variety of rebates on ENERGY STAR-certified appliances and products, including washing machines, dish washers, power strips and others; as well as an $85 incentive through our Smart Savers Thermostat Program. This program allows us to make minor, short-term adjustments to your air conditioning that reduce power during periods of high demand for electricity.

For more ways to save, visit our efficiency page here. And, be on the lookout for our revamped energy analyzer, set to be unveiled by the end of 2017. In the meantime, take advantage of our existing Online Home Energy Analyzer, and be entered to win a $500 Amazon Gift Card.

It’s Customer Service Week! Meet two of our new social representatives

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This week is Customer Service week, a celebration of excellent customer service from companies across the country, and PSEG Long Island is joining the party. We recently expanded our customer services to include social media, which helps us better serve our customers across Long Island and the Rockaways.

The team responds to questions about billing, outages, MyAccount, and more on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. They’re available Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and on Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We chatted with two of our customer service reps about the most rewarding parts of their job, favorite memories with customers, and more.

 

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Name: Lorraine B.

Title: Social Media Supervisor

Hometown: Franklin Square

Previous line of work / college major: Billing Analyst/Marketing

Why customer service?
I’ve been in customer service for almost 10 years. Before PSEG Long Island, I was a customer service representative for National Grid. I genuinely enjoy turning around a customer experience by helping a customer resolve an issue.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working with our customers? When we’re able to help one of our customers, it’s something we do because that’s the nature of the business we work in. With social media, when a customer thanks us publicly, their meaningful words are appreciated and the thank you is that much more rewarding.

What’re the most common types of questions you get?
We get a lot of questions about how customers are able to report an outage, make billing payments or general questions about their account. We handle each inquiry as if the customer were reaching out to us in the call center. Most customer service requests can be handled socially, either on our wall or offline in messenger. Certain account scenarios may require speaking with a representative, and at that time we would refer them to the call center.

What’s your favorite memory of working with a customer?
Shortly after I took my position as one of the social media supervisors, a customer posted on our wall that a cat had gotten stuck high up in the tree in her front yard. She was getting no help from the fire department or ASPCA. I reached out to the town’s fire department and explained how the post was public and that other customers from their town were commenting and asking if help was on the way. Shortly after I got off the phone with the fire department, they called me back advising that they were sending a truck to the location and asked me to let the customer know. Turns out, the cat was actually her pet. The customer posted a picture of the cat on our wall, thanking the social media team for helping bring her cat home safe and sound.

How do you think social media has helped us / you better serve our customers? Social media is the future of customer service. People today want answers even faster than they did, just five years ago. We’re given time to reach out to various departments without having to put customers on hold while looking for the answer. Being able to speak to our customers virtually allows us to not only answer faster, but more efficiently.

If you could tell our customers one thing, what would it be?
Follow us! The social media team is available to answer your inquires. We’re customers just like yourselves, here to help make your customer experience a great one.

 

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Name: Alex C.

Title: Social Media Analyst

Hometown: Shoreham, NY

Previous line of work: Marketing Supervisor at Total Graphics

Why customer service?
Every job I’ve ever had involved working with customers. I have always enjoyed working one-on-one and going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working with our customers?
Being able to help our customers when they need it the most. It’s important for our customers to know we are here to help, no matter what the issue is. Most customers who reach out to us are not aware we can help with most issues though social media. They are usually surprised and very appreciative, when we resolve them without them having to make a phone call.

What’re the most common types of questions you get?
We receive a lot of questions on how to report an outage. Some customers are not aware they can report it socially and get updates about the outage. This also gives us an opportunity to share other ways they can report an outage, such as online with our outage map or by text.

What’s your favorite memory of working with a customer?
I am fortunate enough to have many great experiences with our customers. One involved a customer who messaged us about a new pole that was being installed in front of their house. They were worried the support wire was being installed to close to where their kids play. We were able to reach out to the supervisor who was at the location and made them aware of the situation. We worked with the customer and made sure the support wire was installed in a safe location. The customer was very appreciative that we were able to help them so quickly.

How do you think social media has helped us / you better serve our customers?
Social media is a convenient way for customers to reach out to us regarding any questions with your account or service.  You can message us at your convenience and get a quick response from our team.

If you could tell our customers one thing, what would it be?
We are here for you!  Whether it’s a question about your bill, or an issue with your service, our social media team is here to provide assistance seven days week!

Recent hurricane devastation acts as solemn reminder for LIers to be prepared

Hurricane Harvey Impacts

Just days after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean, leaving destruction in its wake. Now, with Irma’s sights set on Florida and Jose on its heels, our hearts and thoughts are with the people who have been, and could be, affected by these natural disasters.

We also recognize that Long Islanders and Rockaway residents are no strangers to the heartbreaking aftermath of a hurricane. Nearly five years ago, Super Storm Sandy left members of our community without homes, cars and cherished belongings. These types of storms–Sandy, Harvey, Irma and others–are a somber reminder that the peak of hurricane season is upon us. And because September is emergency preparedness month, having a disaster plan should be a priority for both our customers and the utility.

What we’ve done:

Since the creation of PSEG Long Island in 2014, and with Sandy’s devastation top of mind, infrastructure improvement and reliability projects have been two of our biggest urgencies. With the help of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), $729 million of federal recovery funds were secured for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) through an agreement between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The funds will allow us to replace more than 1,000 miles of mainline circuit facilities; elevate and protect flood-prone substations; and install innovative automation that isolates faults, all of which will allow us to limit the number of customers impacted by an outage and significantly speed-up their restoration if power is lost.

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Most recently, we started work in the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay—specifically Seaford and Massapequa—to harden the energy grid. Here, we’re replacing existing wires, installing new and more durable poles, and replacing switching equipment.

But our work to improve reliability is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to emergency preparedness. We, with the help of multiple other businesses and organizations in our service territory, are here to ensure our customers have the tools they need to be ready and stay safe.

What you can do:

We suggest our customers familiarize themselves and bookmark our mobile-friendly website and outage map. The outage map allows you to report an outage; and view outage locations, expected restoration time and number of customers affected. Information is updated every 15 minutes.

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We also urge customers to register for MyAlerts, a texting/e-mailing service that provides outage and restoration updates right to your cellphone. You can also text us to report an outage, and check the status of an outage.

To register:

  • Text the letters OUT to PSEGLI (773454) and press SEND.
  • You will be prompted for type of outage – NO LIGHTS or PARTIAL LIGHTS.
  • Reply/text back your choice.
  • You will be prompted with a confirmation text.

For immediate status updates:

  • Text the letters STAT back to PSEGLI (773454) and press SEND.

Connecting with us on social media is another crucial way to receive up-to-date storm information. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for alerts about storms and outages, and advice for preparing and staying safe. Our customer service representatives are available to answer questions and receive outage reports, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional resources:

IMG_1308A year ago, we partnered with the United Way of Long Island, and 211, to create BeReadyLI, an all-encompassing online resource with tips for storm prep; news and alerts about storms in your area, and information specific to those with special needs. The site also offers resources for kids to better understand evacuation plans, family emergency kits and more.

And, don’t miss our blog post from the start of hurricane season with additional resources to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

What Labor Day means for our union workers

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Ron Bauer, right, and friends at the PSEG Long Island-sponsored Ducks game in August. Our linemen took to the field to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ during the 7th-inning stretch. Watch the video here!

Labor Day began as a time to honor those who worked in some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions with a day of rest. With roots in the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century, the holiday has morphed into an end-of-summer staple complete with barbecues, parades and parties. Despite the evolution of how Labor Day is celebrated, and the working conditions of manual laborers, the essence of its foundation is not lost.

Much of what we do at PSEG Long Island is reliant upon our hard-working and dedicated union employees. Our linemen, meter readers and other union employees work in heat, snow, wind and rain to help us keep the lights on for our customers, as generations have done before. But being part of the union means more than just braving the elements for a job.

Meet one of our long-standing union employees, Ron Bauer. Ron is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, which represents utility workers that generate and maintain the electric and gas transmission and distribution system on Long Island, most recently taking over as its business manager for Don Daley in February 2017. He started his labor career in 1987 as a union member with Local 1486 (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) then joining IBEW Local 1381/1049 in December 1991.

As part of IBEW Local 1049, Ron has chaired various committees, attended conferences, and received training during his labor career that have instilled in him the core values and principles of all working people.

“Being a union member is very beneficial,” he said.  “Good and fair wages, benefits, security, a career path, dignity, a voice at work, a safety conscious job and fair treatment all through collective bargaining and activism.”

Ron currently volunteers with Hope for the Warriors, which benefits disabled veterans; Make a Wish’s Polar Bear Plunge; The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides 5K; the Marcum Workplace Challenge; and the United Way’s March of Dimes 5K.

The camaraderie from participating in these events as a union employee, Ron said, is truly a unique experience.

“The unity and family atmosphere a union brings is unparalleled,” he said. “I’m grateful to be a member of Local 1049 and feel truly blessed.  The opportunity to serve more than 4000 IBEW members [between electric and gas] is such an honor.”

We’re incredibly grateful for all of the work Ron, IBEW 1049, and all of our employees do for PSEG Long Island on a daily basis. Wishing everyone a happy, relaxing and well-deserved Labor Day!

Car shopping? Save money and the environment with the Nissan LEAF!

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Electric cars have been inundating the market in recent years, from electric-gas hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Chevy Bolt; to pure electric cars, like the Tesla or the Nissan LEAF, among dozens of other models from various companies.

We at PSEG Long Island offer our customers a variety of incentives for choosing a “green” form of transportation, and realize the want to do so varies from customer to customer. Whether you’re considering an electric vehicle to help protect our environment, or hoping to cut costs on gas, we’re here to help you make the most of your motivation.

With this in mind, we’re particularly excited to announce a new incentive from Nissan – a $10,000 rebate off its 2017 LEAF model. The rebate is provided by Nissan and open to customers and employees of PSEG Long Island. It will be available through Sept. 30 or until 2017 LEAFs are out of stock (whichever occurs first).

In addition to the $10,000 rebate provided by Nissan, customers could be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit from the federal government and a $1,700 “Drive Clean” rebate from the State of New York.

Here’s how the price breaks down:

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($32,500 is for a base model LEAF; the MSRP of cars available will vary based on features)

Want to take advantage of the offer? Our customers simply should take a copy of their PSEG Long Island bill and a promotional flyer to their local Nissan Dealer. We encourage those considering the purchase to call dealerships in advantage, to ensure the car is in stock. It is also worth noting that the promotion cannot be combined with other deals.

To download the flyer, visit our website here.

And for more information on all things electric vehicles, visit us here, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

6 easy ways to save while on vacation

Hispanic family holding hands at beach

Back to school is right around the corner, but there’s still a few more weeks of summer to kick back, relax and head to your favorite seasonal get-away. Regardless of where you’re going, a vacation should be full of “ahhhs” instead of “oh nos”; so don’t let the stress of high energy bills get in your way.

Follow these simple tips to help save money while you’re away and put some dollars back in your pocket for your return home:

  1. Turn the AC down, or off. Before you hit the road, consider adjusting your central AC to around 84 degrees or turning it off completely.
  2. Adjust the temperature on your water heater. If you have a natural gas water heater, you can set it to “low” or “vacation” mode. If you have an electric water heater, set the temperature as low as possible.
  3. Don’t empty the refrigerator. Did you know a full fridge is more efficient than a half-empty one? You’ll save energy by getting rid of any perishables, and stacking the shelves with water bottles while you’re away. To conserve even more, adjust the thermostats to higher settings: 38 degrees for the refrigerator and 5 degrees for the freezer.
  4. Unplug appliances and power strips. Whenever an appliance is plugged in, it’s using energy. Find anything that has a display screen or light like a TV, cable box, coffee maker or toaster oven and switch it off. Plugging these into a smart strip makes this step even easier.
  5. Close blinds and pull curtains down. This will prevent the sun from warming up your home and lower the amount of heat that’s coming in.
  6. Switch off fans and lights. You can also use an automatic timer for security reasons. Save even more money by switching to LED bulbs.

As a final tip, snap a photo of your stove dial in the ‘off’ position before leaving the house. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to relax worry-free.

For more tips on how to stave money and energy, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!