5 Appliances You Should Always Unplug Before Going on Vacation to Avoid Surges and "Vampire" Energy Drains

Double-check that these items are all turned off before jet setting for the summer

white living room with indoor outdoor fireplace and TV
(Image credit: Quartersawn)

A smart home doesn't necessarily signify a safe home. With the increasing number of gadgets and gizmos that end up making their way into our homes comes an additional number of possible threats to the safety of your home.

At first, this may seem a tad dramatic but think about it. More appliances and items mean more power drainage and more possible points of overheating. Of course, there's no point in worrying about your home when you're away. It defeats the point of a vacation and we'd rather focus on the stunning vacation vistas instead.

So, much like our insight into what appliances to unplug in a heatwave, we consulted our experts, and they've given us a thorough list of all the items you should be turning off before heading out for the summer holidays. This will not only protect your appliance-heavy modern home, but it'll also let you have the vacation you so deserve.

1. Small Kitchen Appliances

According to Dan Mock of Mister Sparky, blenders, coffee makers, toaster ovens, and other small kitchen appliances are best unplugged while on vacation. 'These are what we refer to as “vampire” appliances, meaning they use energy even when they are switched off,' explains Dan. 'They’re energy-sucking devices that are detrimental not only to the environment but also to your wallet.'

Mathew Shelly from Dualit also recommends unplugging small kitchen countertop appliances as this will avoid any risk of a fire or damage to the appliance that could be caused by faulty electrics or a power surge. 'If it is isolated from the power supply, it cannot be affected by any of these factors,' notes Mathew. 'Unlike larger appliances like fridge-freezers, there is no downside to unplugging the smaller appliances and it'll also bring you peace of mind while you’re away enjoying your vacation.'

2. TVs & Gaming Consoles

Surprisingly, leaving TVs and gaming consoles plugged in is a real home safety red flag. Dan lists this as one of the more common home gizmos that are generally left plugged in, regardless of whether the home is occupied or not.

'Should there be a strong storm while you’re away and you don’t have a whole-house surge protector, appliances like TVs and gaming consoles run the risk of being overloaded and shorted out,' he says.

Since TVs and gaming console stations draw a significant amount of power, this could also just unnecessarily drain your electricity and produce a higher bill than expected. So instead of losing money and leaving your house at risk, simply remove these devices from your power outlets and save yourself the trouble.

3. Computers and Smart Home Products

Most modern abodes can be considered smart homes and that means that you should probably pay a little bit of extra attention to your devices before locking up and jetting off.

According to Dan, leaving your devices plugged is one of the top smart home mistakes to avoid. Contrary to popular belief, he points out that having your computer in sleep mode isn’t enough when you’re going away for more than one day. 'Unplug it completely from the outlet to help reduce the amount of energy the home is using and protect the computer from any electrical mishap that can result from power surges,' says Dan. 'The last thing you want is to get home and find that your computer is dead and you’ve lost important files.'

He points out that unplugging it may also help extend the lifespan of the device. As for smart home devices, he suggests unplugging Alexa, Google Home, and any other items that don’t serve an important purpose while you’re away.

4. Fans and Air Purifiers

Dan strongly recommends turning turning off and unplugging all fans and purifiers before leaving your home for an extended amount of time. He explains that there’s no need for them to be plugged in while on vacation.

Aside from being a good rule to follow to avoid any sort of electrical mishaps, this is yet another silent electricity drainer that'll having you spending on energy you didn't even use in the first place.

5. Dishwashers & Washing Machines

According to Ian Palmer-Smith, a home appliance expert at Domestic & General, washing machines and dishwashers use a lot of energy due to their need for water. 'They use more energy than others on standby as they need to be ready to heat water instantly, on demand,' he explains.

Ian classifies these laundry room essentials as prime 'vampire' devices and strongly urges homeowners to unplug them whenever they're not in use. 'When it comes to your household appliances, these items should definitely be switched off to both protect your home and cut your energy bills.'

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.