Seasonal Use or Absenteeism
Will my electric hot water heater use electricity when I'm away?
If you have an electric hot water heater it will use less electricity than if you were home using hot water. If an electric water heater is left energized during your vacation it will continue to maintain the tank temperature, even if you're not using hot water. Heat is lost through the insulation and copper pipes that come out the top. A natural convection of heated water flows up the pipes, cools and returns to the water heater to be re-heated.
How much will my refrigerator or freezer use when I'm gone?
If refrigerators and freezers were not emptied and turned off while you were gone they will continue to operate to maintain preset temperatures. Other electrical appliances like clocks, heat tapes, security lights and televisions with an "instant-on" feature will continue to use electricity if they are not unplugged. See our energy use guide for typical usages of electrical appliances.
Can I eliminate electricity usage when my house is vacant?
If you are determined to use no electricity during your vacation, turn off the circuit breaker. But remember, when you do this the automatic appliances and lighting will stop. Your refrigerator and freezer will defrost, your water heater will not have hot water ready for use upon your return, and your home may freeze or be very cold when you walk in the door. Remember also that vacationers often bring home several days of dirty laundry. This laundry will give your electric water heater and dryer a workout during the first day or two back home. Only you can decide whether your electric meter gets a vacation or not while you are gone.
Can I install my own emergency generator?
The National Electric Code (NEC), Article 700-6 and Article 230-83 requires that for safety reasons a "double-pole, double-throw transfer switch be installed." It is Northern Plains's recommendation that the transfer switch be installed by a licensed electrician for safety reasons as well as proper application. Call Dakota Valley at 800-342-4671 for more information and advice.
How much does it cost to run a portable electric space heater?
A typical (1500 watt) electric space heater will cost approximately 13¢ per hour to operate.
What will it cost if I use heat tapes on water pipes?
The monthly cost for each 18-foot length of heat tape used is approximately $6.50.
What does it cost to use an engine heater for my car?
There are three common sizes of electric engine heaters. Larger vehicle engines have higher wattage electric heaters. Electricity costs approximately 4¢ per hour for a compact car, 7¢ per hour for a mid or full-size car, and 13¢ an hour for a full-size truck. Note: car engine heaters (except for diesel engines) do as much good when left plugged in for two to three hours just before starting as they do when plugged in all night. You can buy a timer (at any hardware store) for about $19 that in most cases will pay for itself in a little more than one month.