What to do if you are going away for Christmas

If you are planning a trip away from home this festive season, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to save on your electricity prices while your house is empty.

Some appliances should be switched off to save power, while it might be best to keep others on.

What to switch off

Appliances on standby suck up a lot of power, so anything non-essential such as microwaves, toasters, televisions and coffee makers should be switched off at the wall.

As should any appliances with a remote control, a continuous digital display or external power source such as a phone or ipod, use power on standby and are known as 'energy vampires.'

Most of these items should be regularly switched off at the wall if you are trying to save money. Leaving the microwave plugged in when you're not using it powers the clock, for example, and an energy comparison found this costs more money than you would use over the year to cook your food.

While you could simply turn off computers, fax machines, scanners and home entertainment products, switching them off at the wall will prevent them from being damaged by a power surge.

Even if you run them through a power surge protector, it is best to unplug them all while you are away.

What you could leave on

If you are only going away for a week or two, you may want to keep your fridge and freezer running. These appliances defrost if they are switched off.

Most modern fridges are energy efficient these days so it shouldn't cost you the Earth to leave it running.

However, there are a few tips to help minimise running costs while you are away.

Make sure that you have removed all perishable items from the fridge. If anything can be frozen, pop it in the freezer.

Speaking of frozens, you could also consider switching the ice maker off while you are away - after all, you're not going to be using it.

If you are leaving your fridge less than half full, placing a few plastic jugs of water inside should help you keep it cool meaning the compressor won't need to run so hard.

Emptier fridges do not need to be kept at the same temperature as full fridges, so consider changing it to a warmer setting.

If you are going away for an extended break, however, it may be worth switching your fridge off. If you are leaving your fridge in storage it is best to leave the doors open to prevent mould and mildew build up.