Efficiency tips for a festive holiday season

As we enter the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the most expensive time of year for many of us. Along with the expense of gifts, meals and travel come colder weather and darker nights that lead to more electricity use and higher bills.

One way to reduce the financial burden during the holidays is by implementing efficiency tips to use less energy at home and lower your monthly bills.

Home practices

If you are hosting guests, your household will consume more electricity than normal. Be prepared with efficiency basics:

  • Have your thermostat programmed at 68 degrees when you are home and dialed back 8 to 10 degrees when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • Run the clothes washer on cold with full loads.
  • When not in use, turn off lights and the TV; fully shut down computers and gaming systems instead of putting them in sleep or standby mode.
  • Lower the thermostat when guests are over or while cooking food.

Cooking efficiency

Whether you are making holiday treats or a feast, here are a few tips to help lower energy use in the kitchen.

Use the oven light to check the food. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by up to 25 degrees, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). When possible, use a slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven or warming plate, which uses less energy than an oven and stovetop.

Let hot food cool to room temperature before placing it inside the refrigerator. This ensures you don’t increase the temperature inside your fridge and cause it to use more energy to cool down.

Holiday lighting

This year, make the switch to LEDs for all your holiday lighting. LED holiday lights consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. For example, it costs 27 cents to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights.

Pick up a few light timers so you don’t have to remember to unplug your lights every evening. You can also choose to upgrade to smart holiday lights that offer a range of app-controlled options, including time, colors, music and modes.

Out-of-town efficiency

If you’re visiting family and friends, prepare your home to use less energy while you’re away.

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, accounting for about 18 percent of your utility bill, according to the DOE. Switching your water heater to vacation mode will reduce wasted energy by keeping the water at a lower temperature. If your water heater does not have vacation mode on the dial, you can adjust it to the lowest setting.

Set your thermostat to around 55 degrees so you’re not wasting energy to heat the home while you’re away.

Instead of leaving lights on all day, consider upgrading a lamp or fixture to a smart lightbulb. This allows you to control lights from afar and set a schedule for the lights to go on and off. Another option is to repurpose your holiday light timer for one of your living room lamps.

Lower your energy bills with these simple efficiency tips and have a happy holiday season.