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Energy and Money-Saving Tips for the Holidays
The holidays are in full swing, which means the lights are on, the heat is going, and families are traveling to be with one another. But you shouldn’t have to cut back on the things you love because of high energy bills. Enjoy this lovely holiday season by taking the steps necessary to reduce your energy both in your home and at the office. Your wallet, and your boss, will thank you.
Your Home Energy
According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% a year by turning the thermostat back a few degrees when you’re not home. So, if you’re not home, turn the thermostat down. Or even if you are home, there are other ways to stay warm. Get your blood pumping with some exercise, drink some hot cocoa, enjoy a bowl of soup, or dress in layers. You can always curl up with some blankets on the couch as well.
Put down the electronics. Yeah, it’s said all the time, but you can reduce your energy bills by shutting off the television and unplugging all your wall chargers. You can enjoy electronic-free family time by playing board or card games, going for a walk, or playing with your favorite pet. Turning the electronics all the way off, instead of just on standby mode, can reduce your energy bills. You can also find energy-saving power strips for the devices that need to be plugged in all the time.
Have you heard of weatherizing your home? Weatherizing is the practice of protecting a building from the elements and modifying it to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency. You can do all of this by installing weather strips on doors and around windows to save on energy loss. Clean and repair your HVAC system regularly. A clean and working system will increase efficiency and reduce your energy bills. Depending on how much energy you use, you can save anywhere between 10-20% in energy from weatherizing your home.
Christmas Light Energy
Christmas lights come in all shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay a high price or cut back on the lights you love. On average, LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 years longer than regular ones. Replace those holiday lights with LED bulbs or string lights. You can save even more with Christmas lights if you keep them all on a programmable timer.
What else are the holidays about, if not food? Make the most of a hot oven when cooking by prepping and cooking in batches. Turn the oven off when you’re not using it. Remember, every time you open the oven door, it loses heat, so it has to work harder to get back to the right temperature. Also, using the right-sized pan and corresponding burning on the stove will save energy. If you can see the burner area peeking out from underneath, you’re losing energy. And you can avoid defrosting food in the microwave by putting it in the fridge to thaw overnight.
Wrapping Paper and Cards
Do you know how miles of wrapping paper are wasted covering gifts? More than 225,000 miles of paper is wasted every year, and the number keeps growing. Just think of the energy costs of manufacturing and then transporting the tons of wrapping paper to stores to be purchased.
Consider reusing wrapping paper from old gifts, or you can create your own! That extra fabric you have lying around that you don’t know what to do with? Use it as a covering for your gift(s). Any tissue paper, construction paper, etc., in the cupboard? You can use that as gift coverings too! Are you giving any scarves as a gift? Want to get rid of any? They make great coverings too.
If you absolutely cannot give up the wrapping paper tradition, look for recycled paper. It will be listed on the packaging.
Cards are another holiday favorite, but they use a lot of energy to print and ship, as well. You can always make your own. Handmade items are more sentimental, especially when you enlist the help of a child. Cards can be found
Energy from Holiday Traveling
Be conscious of your traveling this year. Make sure your car is winter-ready, both for safety and better gas mileage. Avoiding holiday rushes will help you save gas by cruising along and avoiding stop-and-go traffic, leading to more trips to the pump. Where possible, carpool with friends and family to limit the number of cars on the road.
Your Office Energy
Upgrade your office equipment to energy savings models. Look for appliances and equipment that use less energy while performing the same job. Equipment can be found with an Energy Star certification indicating its efficiency. This symbol can be found on computers, printers, windows, thermostats, and more.
Remind everyone in the office to turn off their electronics and lights at the end of the day. Make use of daylighting as much as possible and use those smart power strips.
Just as in the home, some weatherization can help at the office, as well. If needed, install weather strips on doors and/or windows. Make sure the HVAC system is clean and working efficiently. Ensure all air vents are clear of office supplies. Blocked air vents mean your HVAC system has to work harder to use more energy.
In conclusion, whether you’re spending the holidays at home or traveling, it’s a great time to reduce your energy costs; but you have to plan. Spending more time with your family and friends away from screens not only decreases your energy use but provides lasting memories with the ones you love.