Planning for an energy-efficient holiday can help you reduce the impact of high home heating costs and prevent a budget bust when the holiday bills arrive in January. The Alliance to Save Energy offers the following tips for trimming winter home energy costs, including a few possible holiday gift ideas!
- Be on the cutting edge with LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights. Each bulb with this new technology uses only 0.04 watts and is up to 90 percent more efficient than its incandescent counterpart. So a household burning 10 strands of lights for eight hours a day for a month at $0.0853 per kilowatt-hour would spend $127.67 for large, incandescent bulbs, $7.20 for traditional mini-lights, and just $0.72 for LEDs. These newer bulbs are sturdy, last up to 100,000 hours, or 20 years, and barely warm up, eliminating fire concerns.
- To maximize holiday lighting savings, use timers to limit light displays to no more than six evening hours a day. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple your energy costs and create four times the pollution. It’s also unsafe: untended lights can cause fires, so always unplug your interior holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Stay cozy in your festive holiday attire by plugging air leaks and insulating. Sealing up air leaks with caulking and weatherstripping–including caulking around the fireplace hearth–and installing adequate insulation for your climate will not only increase indoor comfort but will also reduce home heating costs by up to 20 percent.
- Don’t send precious, costly warmed air up the chimney! While using a fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or opening the nearest window slightly (about an inch), closing the door to that room, and turning down the thermostat to 50 to 55 degrees. And don’t forget to close the flue when you’re done enjoying the fire.
- Decorate your home with “Energy Stars.” Appliances and electronics with the Energy Star label–the government’s symbol of energy efficiency–can cut related home energy bills by up to 30 percent. Make these a central part of your energy-efficient holiday, and use the savings to jump-start your children’s piggy bank accounts.
- Make a New Year’s resolution that’s good for your pocketbook and the environment. Get started on those energy-efficient home improvements you’ve been putting off for too long.
- Let a programmable thermostat help you to lower the heat when you leave the house empty to go to work, to the mall for a day of gift shopping or during overnight hours when you’re cozy in bed, and to warm it up again shortly before you return.
- In the spirit of Kwanzaa–the African-American spiritual week of remembering, reassessing, recommitting, and rejoicing–reassess your power consumption, recommit to energy-efficient lighting practices, and rejoice in the savings.
- Pay the local kids to shovel your driveway. Better to give them some extra spending money than to use it towards the purchase of a smog-producing, gas-guzzling snowblower.
- No roasting chestnuts over an open halogen torchiere! It can burn hot enough to cause a fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Instead, give yourself the gift of an energy-efficient, Energy Star-labeled torchiere lamp, for a brighter, thriftier, safer holiday.
- When you’re looking for that last stocking stuffer for the kids, remember there’s nothing wrong with gifts that are powered by the imagination, rather than by batteries or electricity.
- Strap on those cross-country skis or rollerblades or ride your bike to tour the neighborhood holiday decorations. It’s a great way to work off those extra holiday calories, and it’s much cheaper than filling up your family SUV.
- Although frost on windows may be charming in holiday movies, it’s uncomfortable in your own home. Depending on your financial capabilities, either cover single-pane windows with plastic film to avoid drafts, install storm windows or upgrade to energy-efficient windows with double panes and low-emissivity coatings to dramatically improve indoor comfort, add beauty to your home, and save money during the holiday season and beyond.
- Unplug the video games and turn off the millionth broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life, and read your favorite holiday story instead. Your children will appreciate your attention and time, and you’ll be saving energy in the process.
- Instead of leaving your door open to carolers and losing all that precious heat, pull on your parka and join the fun. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, too!
- Give your family the extra gift of your time while energy-efficient products and technologies do the work for you, reducing home energy and water bills and needless air pollution and increasing comfort day after day.
For tips on energy efficient holiday lighting and more, check out Alliance to Save Energy’s informative consumer website for more ideas for an energy-efficient holiday and savings year-round.