One of the worst things about coming home after a week's vacation in the summer is returning to a sweltering hot house because you turned the air conditioning off while you were gone. Yes, doing that will save money on energy bills, but there's a few other things you can do too so you can leave the air on.

If you would like your home energy bills to take a vaca too while you're away, the Energy Education Council advises taking these five steps before heading out the door:

  1. Unplug your devices to avoid "phantom power draws." Unplug all appliances that won't be used like computers, microwaves, TV's, etc.
  2. Turn down the water heater. Experts say water heating accounts for about 15% of a home's utility bill, and it will continue to heat water while you are away when you don't need it.
  3. Use a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat warmer than you typically have it to cut cooling costs, then program it to cool things down again before you return home.
  4. Use your blinds and curtains. Keeping your window coverings closed while you're gone will prevent solar heat gain, and reduce the use of your air conditioner.
  5. Instal programmable timers for lights. It's not safe to leave your lights off for an entire week, but leaving them constantly on is a huge waste of energy and a big fire hazard. Set timers for when you want lights on, and for when they should go off.