Tips For an Energy Efficient Holiday Season
With the holidays fast approaching once again, you may be considering ways to save energy and money this time around. Between the gift-giving, the company parties, the cookie exchanges, the extra guests and the trips to Grandma’s house, there is no doubt that the expenses can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are some ways to save money without sacrificing any of the holiday cheer.
The following are some tips for energy efficiency that will not only save you money, but are also beneficial to the environment.
- Use LED Christmas lights. While these cost more initially, your savings in the long run will more than make up the difference. LEDs are estimated to use at least 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer. They are also safer to use since they stay cooler, thus reducing risk of fire, and are less prone to break. If you can’t afford to replace all of your lights at one time, try to replace a few strings every holiday season. Keep an eye out for clearance prices after the holidays.
- Connect Christmas lights to a timer. An electric light timer is a small investment that will save you from having to remember to unplug your lights each night, reducing expenses from inadvertently leaving the lights on during daylight hours.
- Adjust your thermostat. Turning your thermostat down 10-15 degrees (or up, if you are using air conditioning) for 8 hours each day, can save between 5%-15% a year on your energy bill. According to energy.gov, the savings percentage is greater in milder climates. You can achieve these savings by adjusting your thermostat at night, or during the day before you leave for work. For convenience, a programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the thermostat at times that you have preset.
- Save on gasoline. With all the extra errands and outings that come with the holiday season, proactively planning your trips to include several stops will save on gasoline costs and avoid last minute runs to the store.
- Power down. If you are going out of town for several days, take the time to reduce your home’s resting energy consumption. Adjust the thermostat to keep the air conditioner or furnace running as little as possible while you are away. Unplug electronics and appliances, such as the computer, television, toaster and coffee maker. Turn the temperature on your water heater down.
- Buy energy efficient gifts. Solar powered lights or battery rechargers, energy saving power strips, cordless tools and other items that use rechargeable batteries are all better for the environment and will save money over time. For children, consider skipping electronics altogether and giving more traditional gifts, such as books, board games, building toys or dolls.
- Schedule a heating/cooling check with an HVAC professional. It is recommended to have your system checked yearly for maximum efficiency and preventative maintenance. Along the same lines, recommendations are to change the filter on your air conditioner or furnace every 30 days. This is a simple step to keep your system running more efficiently.
- Buy Energy Star rated appliances. If a new appliance is on your wish list, or if it becomes a last minute necessity during the holiday season, look for appliances carrying the Energy Star label. This is a government-backed symbol that ensures that the products meets certain standards set forth by Energy Star. For more information, or to find a list of products, visit www. energystar.gov.
- Maximize energy efficiency in the kitchen. Use a microwave or crockpot when you can, since these use significantly less energy than the oven. Don’t leave the oven door open or open it unnecessarily while it is hot, as the heat can escape quickly. Fit pots and pans to the appropriately sized burner on the stovetop to prevent excess heat from escaping around the edges. A full refrigerator or freezer runs more efficiently than one that is not.
- Keep indoor light usage at a minimum. Even during the shorter days of winter, take advantage of natural light by opening the window blinds or curtains during the day. If you have decorated with Christmas lights indoors, they may give off enough light, even at night, to make additional lamps or over head lighting unnecessary.