From our friends at BALANCE
The holidays can be an energy guzzler.
The Christmas lights are hung and turned on 24/7. The oven is busy baking gingerbread cookies, yams, turkey, etc. The whole family is at home and turns on all of the lights…and the television…and the computer. Between driving to stores to buy gifts and attend holiday dinners and parties, the car gets double its normal use.
Not only is all of this excessive energy use bad for the planet, but it drains your wallet as well. However, there is no need to turn off the lights on holiday cheer. Here are five easy ways you can reduce your energy consumption.
Skip the Christmas lights.
Instead of using Christmas lights, why not use decorations that don’t need to be plugged in, like garland and ornaments? But, if you just can’t live without them, consider purchasing LED Christmas lights, which use about 80-90% less energy than conventional ones.
Turn off your household lights.
With people typically on vacation during the holidays and friends and family visiting, lights tend to get turned on more. However, you do not need to eat in the dark to save energy – just walk around periodically to make sure that the lights are not on in empty rooms. Also remember to unplug items that drain energy even when they are off, like computers, televisions, and cell-phone chargers (when you are not using them, of course!).
Don’t drive more than you need to.
Instead of visiting the mall multiple times, try to buy all of your gifts in one trip. Draining your gas tank shopping can be avoided if you buy on-line, but sometimes the shipping fees are more than what you would have spent on gas driving to the mall. If you need to travel a long distance for a celebration, consider carpooling. You may not want to spend an extra 45 minutes with Aunt Marie, but you can ask her to pay for half of the gas.
Turn down the thermostat.
Heating is the highest energy expense in most homes, so not having the heater at full blast could save you hundreds of dollars. Certainly, you do not want the house to feel like a freezer, but why not try lowering the temperature a few degrees and putting on a sweater? (You may have received an ever-so-stylish one in holidays past!) When guests are over is often a good time to turn the thermostat down since crowded rooms tend to be warmer than empty ones.
Avoid excessive appliance use when cooking and cleaning.
You can use the oven more efficiently by cooking multiple dishes at the same time. Wait, but what if you have a pie that bakes at 400° and bread that bakes at 350°? You may be able to get away with baking them both at 375°. Or, if you only have a small amount to cook, use a more energy-efficient toaster oven or microwave instead. When washing dishes, consider doing it by hand, or, at the very least, only turn on the dishwasher when it is full.
By being conscious of and reducing your energy consumption, you can enjoy the holidays without breaking out in a sweat when January’s energy bill comes.