It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The smell of pine and cinnamon, cookies baking in the oven, lights twinkling inside and outside your home, and…
An enormous electric bill. Ouch.
The holidays in America are known for being a little over the top, and excessive energy consumption from lights, decorations and appliances are no exception. While it may be exciting to make your house light up like a beacon that can be seen from outer space, it’s not actually that great for your wallet (or the planet, for that matter).
If you’re thinking about having a greener holiday season, try the following tips:
Use Better Lights
Based on a report from WIRED, Americans spend an extra $233 million on utility bills each year because of holiday lights. To keep your energy consumption in check this season, try LED or energy-efficient bulbs instead of traditional ones. Incandescent lights draw up to 90 percent more watts than LED lights, so switching to LED strands—or going with wreaths, bows and lawn ornaments that don’t use energy—can save you a ton.
Use Smart Plugs
It’s easy to forget to unplug decorations and lights, but doing so can make a real ding in your monthly budget. That’s where smart plugs come in handy. Smart plugs monitor your energy usage and break it down into an easy report each month so that you know exactly how much energy your holiday decorations consume.
Some smart plugs can also be programmed to run on a timer or manually from an app on your smart device. When you’re toasty in bed, you can turn off your lights to save on energy. Plus, if you’re away on vacation, you can pull a "Home Alone" and make it look like you’re home, which can help deter holiday theft.
Cook Wisely and in Batches
Holiday cooking is one of the best parts of the season. (Hello, pumpkin pie.) But, firing up the oven and stove accounts for 4.5 percent of your home’s energy consumption, and that number jumps to 15 percent if you add in the energy your fridge and other kitchen appliances consume. This season, when you’re making lots of cookies, roasts and goodies, remember to bake in batches so you don’t waste energy heating and re-heating the oven.
Also, use appropriately-sized cookware. Glass or ceramic pots and pans can be heated to 25 degrees less than recipes recommend, and cast iron retains heat easier, making these types of cookware a good option to help you save more on energy costs. You can even go green entirely by making recipes that require low or no energy to prepare. And don’t forget that the oven will act as a temporary space heater when you're cooking, so be sure to turn down your thermostat.
Light a Fire
A roasting fire is a festive holiday accessory—and it’s a great way to cut down on grid-powered electricity this season. Fireplaces can actually be an eco-friendly (and super cozy) way to heat your home. You don’t even need chestnuts to get the full effect.
As you’re doing this, try keeping your thermostat 7 - 10 degrees cooler than normal for eight hours per day to save up to 10 percent on your utility bills. For example, you could turn your thermostat down early in the morning and at night, then turn it up during the day. It’s sweater weather after all, so bundle up and let a fire warm you.
Use Your Foyer Wisely
The more the merrier, but when guests come and go for the holidays, your home can lose a lot of heat through the opening and shutting of doors. Try adding a draft-blocking device to insulate your home. You should also open other doors inside your home to increase proper air circulation and make it easier for your furnace to heat the space.
Trying to make your home eco-friendly through the holidays doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, besides saving you some serious change and reducing your carbon footprint, it can actually be a holiday mood booster as you make things more nostalgic and cozy. Who knows? You might even create a new holiday tradition.
Carols around the fireplace, anyone?