How Long Can You Leave A Circuit Breaker Off? (+Energy Saving Tips)

We all love to take breaks and go on vacation. But many things need checking before that, like keeping the circuit breaker on or off to save electricity. At the same time, you also need to ensure that things work after your return. 

You can keep the circuit breaker off for nearly a year or more. But, you damage the breaker every time you switch it on or off. It creates a power surge. The breaker will be fine if it is off for a long time without any interruption, but repeated on and off will damage your breaker.

Do not switch the breaker off if your vacation is for only a week or a month. There are multiple ways to save electricity during short vacations.

This guide will tell you the drawbacks of repeated on and off of the breaker and other ways to save electricity.

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Can I keep the breaker off during a vacation to save electricity?

You can keep the breaker off during a vacation.

Still, it is not recommended if you are going for a short vacation. 

Every time you turn off the circuit breaker, you push it towards the path of damage. 

Suppose you continue turning it off every time you go for a weekly or monthly vacation.

In that case, your breaker will become bad in a short period. 

So, it is always recommended not to turn off the breaker.

How long can I keep the circuit breaker off?

How long you can keep the breaker off is unrelated because you need to turn it on at some point.

Every time you turn it on or off, you harm the circuit. 

Generally, you can still keep it off for as long as you want.

Your breaker will be fine unless and until the frequent on and off part is not in repeat mode.

If you are going out somewhere for some years, you can keep the breaker off. 

Since your breaker will not get interrupted within these years, the breaker will be fine.

It will also keep your electricity from getting wasted. 

Many plugged-in appliances and other devices can draw electricity.

As a result, you have to pay electricity bills despite not being at home to enjoy it. 

So, you can turn off the breaker for as long as you want, nearly one year or even more. 

But, if you constantly turn it on and off weekly, monthly, or even yearly, your circuit breaker will reduce the breaker’s lifespan. 

While turning off the breaker during a weekend vacation, your breaker will get damaged within a short period. 

In the case of yearly shutting off of the breaker, the breaker will take time to wear out. 

While leaving the breaker off, you may think you are saving electricity.

But you run the risk of damaging your circuit along with the connected appliances too.

You allow for the electrical surge whenever you turn on the circuit breaker.

It can hurt your breaker and the connected devices.

What happens if I keep my circuit breaker off?

The circuit breaker will stay fine and save electricity if it stays off for a very long time. 

But keeping it off for a short time and turning it on will damage the breaker. 

Turning it off only once or twice throughout your life or in 10-15 years will be fine for the breaker. 

But, constantly flipping the breaker will harm it and lead to serious electrical hazards. 

So, if you leave for a very long trip or go for a vacation for a season, you can keep it off. 

Turning it on and off frequently during shorter vacations will only damage the breaker.

Also read: Circuit Breaker Off But Still Have Power: 6 Causes+Fix

Should I turn off the AC circuit breaker during a vacation?

You can turn off the AC circuit breaker if you are not using it, especially during winter. 

By turning off the AC breaker, you are reducing electricity wastage.

The plugged-in appliance will continue drawing power even if you do not switch it on. 

As a result, you will have to pay the bills despite keeping them off. 

So, there is no problem in keeping this specific breaker off during the winter seasons.

However, knowing other ways of saving electricity is much better than turning off the circuit breakers now and then. 

Since you have known by now that the circuit breaker gets damaged slowly every time they are switched on or off, it is better to know some alternate ways of saving current.

In the next section, we will learn alternate ways to save electricity and money before vacationing.

How do I save electricity during vacations?

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By now, you know that you must keep the circuit breaker off only occasionally during vacations. 

Flipping it off one or two times would be fine.

But, constantly turning it off during a vacation every week and month will damage your breaker. 

While going on vacation, the first thing about electricity that strikes our mind is how to save it since you will not be at home.

A new breaker will cost around $497 to $1,809. 

So, you always need to protect your circuit breaker and make sure to increase its lifespan.

However, at some point, you will have to replace the breaker. 

Heating is the main problem in breakers.

It is caused in most houses due to the use of several electrical appliances.

But, there are always ways of reducing consumption.

Instead of turning off the breaker, there are multiple ways to save electricity. 

Below, I have shared some common and safe things to do to save electricity:

Unplug all the appliances

Unplug all the appliances from your outlets and circuits, especially the bigger ones like the televisions and refrigerators. 

Even when you do not use electricity, some appliances continue to draw energy if plugged into the outlets. 

Refrigerators draw too much power.

So, when you are out for a week or month, clean all the food from it and unplug it.

You can also turn off the ice maker to save energy and reduce leakage. 

However, other necessary devices like the sump pump should remain plugged in for the safety of your house.

Lower the water heater temperature

Call an electrician to make a dedicated switch for the heater.

You can turn the switch off while on vacation instead of shutting off the breaker for the water heater. 

While turning off the water heater instead of the circuit breaker, you are not affecting the breaker and not wasting any extra electricity. 

You can try pipe insulations or heater wraps to keep your unit insulated and efficient. 

Many water heaters come with a dial to set the water temperature.

Decrease the temperature before leaving your home for vacation.

It will reduce energy usage and save it from wastage. 

Some water heater systems also have a dedicated ‘vacation mode’ setting.

You can keep that on to save electricity instead of turning off the breaker or unplugging the appliance.

Adjust your thermostat

Adjusting the thermostat is another way of saving electricity instead of turning off the breaker. 

Set the temperature between 50-60°F during cold weather.

It will prevent freezing of the pipes and use less current. 

In hot weather, keep the temperature around 85°F.

It will keep your house’s air conditioner from working too much while on vacation.

Use energy-efficient appliances

If you seldom go for vacations, you should use energy-efficient appliances that consume less power. 

Energy Star appliances consume 50% less power than other regular ones. 

Change your old conventional dryer, washer, and fridge and jump to new and more efficient products that consume less power than the old ones. 

By this, you do not have to switch off the breaker repeatedly and damage it. 

Even if you keep them plugged in, they will consume very less power.

So, you do not have to worry about the electricity bills.

However, it would be much better if you could unplug them.

Install a timer or switch

Some water heaters do not have any pre-installed timer, automatic switch to remain on or off, or any vacation mode.

For such water heaters, you can install a timer or switch to help the heater save water heating and electricity costs when you are not at home.

When you doubt, leave the breaker in the ‘on’ position.

When you leave for a long or short trip, it is unnecessary to turn off the breaker.

As we know, repeated turning off of the breaker can damage it. 

But, you will also remain concerned about electricity.

For that, you can try the alternative methods I have shared in the previous section. 

As a responsible house owner, you must consider the house’s maintenance and security.

Turning off the breaker may sound simple, but it is not. 

Besides, repeatedly turning the breaker on or off to save electricity bills can increase the electric bills and damage the breaker due to the electrical surges. 

Keeping the breaker off for long vacations is fine. 

If you are confused about whether to keep it on or off or how to save electricity, keep the breaker on and try other methods of saving electricity. 

You can save money, be conscious about your house, the breaker, and appliances, and reduce the chance of harming any breaker or appliances.

Final thoughts

You can keep the breaker off if you go for a vacation for one year or season. It is safe to keep it off for one year or more. 

But constant turning on or off will damage your breaker slowly. Every time you switch on the breaker, an electrical surge occurs, and your breaker approaches one step towards damage.

If you are out on vacation for only 1-2 weeks, there is no need to turn off the circuit. 

You can try alternative ways to save electricity, like unplugging appliances, lowering the heater temperature, adjusting the thermostat, using energy-efficient appliances, etc. 

If you doubt whether to turn the circuit on or off, even if you are out for a few years, you can keep the circuit on but follow the alternative ways to save money and electricity.


How many times can you turn off a circuit breaker?

Turning off a breaker is not recommended because every time you do it, you push it towards the path of damage.

So, it is fine to turn it off 1-2 times every once in a while.

But, if the breaker trips, you can turn it off up to 4-5 times.

If it still troubles you, you need an electrician to fix the problem.

Data Source: National Electrical Code, NEC Wire Table,  Electrical wiringHome wiring.

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Arthur Smith

Howdy! I am Arthur Smith, an electrical engineer who is extremely passionate about electronics. I have lived in different parts of the US and currently reside in Wisconsin. I am one of those rare children who knew what he wanted to study and do in life right from the start. I was a curious child who wanted to know how switches work and how the AC works, and I would always observe my dad whenever he would handle the wires and fix things around the house. I currently work as an electrical engineer at a reputed company and write for this blog. And I read loads of books or play video games in my free time.

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