By Uma Campbell:
The holidays are a time for family, food and joy. And part of that joy comes in the form of decorations. While holiday decorations can create beautiful scenes, the holidays are often an expensive time of year as well. Buying presents, food, and attending events can add up quickly. The other, somewhat hidden expense of the holidays, is energy. All those trips to the store, the airport, and back can become costly; but they pale in comparison to the energy cost of the holiday season.
Chances are, you have extra people in your house during the holidays. More people in a house generally means using more electricity. You normally may have lights on in one room with a computer running, but once more people are added to the picture, more lights and devices might be in use. Combine this increased usage with holiday decorative lights, and the energy cost increases even more. Thankfully, there are simple actions you can take to mitigate energy usage without losing any holiday whimsy. This guide will explain 6 easy ways to combat high energy usage during the holidays.
Turn Down the Heat
The holidays normally bring colder weather. No one wants to be cold in their own home, so most homeowners will turn on the heat. Cranking up the heat does come at a cost, though. It is important to balance being comfortable and amassing a huge energy bill. There are a few creative ways to heat your house without overusing the heater.
The simplest way to reduce heating bills is to lower the thermostat. That’s not to say you should turn the heat off entirely; simply lowering the thermostat a few degrees can save you a significant amount of money. Throw on a sweater or blanket rather than raise the thermostat’s setting. You don’t need to be freezing to save energy, either, as lowering the heat by one degree can reduce your energy usage by 3%.
If you have friends and family over, lower the thermostat a few more degrees than normal. Human bodies naturally give off heat, so a group of people in a room will raise the temperature. The more people in a space, the warmer it will become, so you can turn down the heater when guests are coming over.
A roaring fireplace creates wonderful ambience and a classic holiday image, but a fireplace is neither energy nor heat efficient. If you are sitting right in front of the fire, you may be quite warm and comfortable, but the further away you get from the fire, the less heat you can feel. The energy used when running a fireplace is not worth the heat you receive in return. A fireplace also pulls in just as much cold air as it produces in hot air. In order to sustain a fire, your fireplace draws in cold air through the flue, essentially negating any heat from the fire. It is much more energy efficient to use your HVAC system to heat your house.
The holidays might bring cold weather, but the sun is still shining. Take advantage of the heat coming from the sun by leaving curtains and drapes open during the day. By doing this, you allow in as much sunlight as possible, which will help keep your house warm. At night, be sure to close curtains and drapes to keep heat inside the house.
When cooking in an oven, there are a few things you can do to most efficiently use the energy. It is all too tempting to peek into the oven when cooking something, but resist the urge. Every time you open the oven door, you are letting out heat that the oven must correct to maintain the cooking temperature. Not only does opening the oven door let heat escape, but it makes the oven draw in more energy, making the two-second look energy inefficient.
Holiday lights are essentially a given. Millions of people use lights to decorate Christmas trees, the outside of houses, and indoor spaces every holiday season. However, if you are going to run holiday lights, be sure you are using energy efficient lights. LED lights use 80-990% less energy than conventional lights.
Even with LED lights, it is a good idea to limit the amount of time decorative lights are on. There is no reason to have outdoor lights lit during the day and indoor lights should not be on when no one is home. The same idea applies to basic house lights. If a light is not in use, turn it off. Tell any house guests about your energy saving plan so they can turn off lights, too.
You generally use more water during the holidays. Cooking and overnight guests can greatly increase your hot water usage. However, if you lower your water heater temperature by 10 degrees, you lower energy usage by 3 to 5 percent with no negative effects. Chances are you won’t even notice the lower temperature, making this an easy option.
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but can also be expensive. With the tips and tricks in this guide, you can cut down on energy usage, therefore saving yourself money.