Ahhh, Friday afternoon is finally here and you can't wait to escape for the weekend to your second home. Whether you have a cottage at the lake or a cabin in the mountains, your vacation home should be a place for rest and relaxation – not a place for worry about how much energy it's eating up and what the extra utility bills are costing you. Stop the worry with these tips on how to make your vacation home more efficient so you can return to the carefree-weekend you're craving.

  1. Make sure your house is sealed up tight. This means making sure the roof, siding, foundation and gutters are free of holes – or even cracks, dents or nicks that could become holes – that allow air leaks or even insects and bigger critters into your house. You also need to make sure your doors and windows don't have any cracks. Since you don't live in this house every day, you might not notice a small problem before it turns into a big issue, so it's important to maintain a tightly sealed home.
  2. Use a smart thermostat. These new kinds of programmable thermostats are web-enabled so you can adjust the temperature anytime, anywhere. That type of access is particularly helpful for preventing damage to a second home. For example, you may have turned off the heat in your vacation home to save money, but an approaching winter storm threatens to freeze your pipes. With a smart thermostat, you could turn on the heat with your smartphone or computer to prevent the pipes from bursting, requiring a costly repair. Smart thermostats can also help make your vacation home more comfortable. Instead of waiting for an hour or so for the house to cool off or warm up once you get there, you can simply adjust the thermostat from the road, making your entry to the vacation that much smoother.
  3. Make sure your exhaust fan is working properly. With too much moisture in a locked-up house, mold can build up quickly. Make sure your exhaust fan in the bathroom is working and be sure to use it after every shower, especially on the day you leave.
  4. Turn off your appliances and electronics when you leave. This may sound obvious, but you may not realize that many plugged-in appliances draw energy even when they are "turned off." Electronics with a standby mode (such as a microwave or TV), power cords with a large brick in the middle of the cord (laptop adaptors) and large block plugs (phone chargers) use electricity all the time. The easiest way to turn multiple electronics and appliances off is to plug them all into power strips; then with one flick you can turn everything plugged into them off at once.
  5. Set the hot water heater to a lower temperature. Make sure the temperature on your hot water heater is no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When you leave, you can turn the temperature even lower or set it to vacation mode if your hot water heater has one.

There's no reason your vacation home can't be just as energy-efficient as your daily home. Save some energy and money with these simple tips that will make your weekend.

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