Does the thought of decorating your home for the holidays fill you with glee? Do your eyes twinkle when you think of tinsel? Getting to showcase your holiday spirit at home is one of the things we love most about this time of year. In fact, one study found that decking the halls can make you happier and even help you get to know the people on your block better. But getting extra festive can also result in an unwanted present to unwrap: exorbitant energy bills.
How can you get in touch with your inner Clark Griswold while keeping the energy consumption to a minimum? Here are three steps you can take this season.
Deck the halls with LED lights.
Did you know one string of LED lights can last you through 40 holiday seasons? They use 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and they’re cool to the touch, which reduces the risk of fire hazard. Plus, the bulbs are made of plastic and not glass, so you don’t have to worry about them breaking.
Not into the Blue Christmas vibe that cool-hued LEDs provide? You can still do alright with a Christmas of white. Just look for the “warm white” color on the box, which indicates bulbs that give off a soft, golden glow.
On Dasher, on Dancer, on timer!
Leaving your tree lit all day might look pretty, but it’s wasting energy. Setting both outdoor and indoor lights on a timer will not only give you one less thing to remember but also ensure your lights are on at night when you’re able to enjoy them. As a rule of thumb, Energy.gov recommends having your lights on for no more than 8 hours in the evening. Plus, you don’t want to blind your neighbors at 2 a.m. with the giant light-up Santa that’s on your roof.
Turn off overhead lights when the tree is lit. If you need some added task lighting, switch on a table or floor lamp.
Want to go all-in on energy-efficient decor? Wreaths, ribbons, garlands, pine cones, candles (regular or flameless), tabletop decorations, and tapestries are all great alternatives that will make your home feel just as festive (and cozy, too). Utilize reflective materials like tinsel, metallic ornaments, or glitter-adorned baubles and trinkets to add some sparkle without the need for electricity.
During the shorter daylight hours of winter, decorations aren’t the only things that fill our stockings with costly energy bills. Here are a few more ideas for keeping your energy costs low as you celebrate the holidays:
If you're not roasting chestnuts on an open fire, you’re likely using the oven instead. Make your oven usage more efficient by cooking multiple items at once, so you don’t have to reheat it numerous times. When checking the food, utilize your oven light instead of opening the door, which lets heat escape and slows your cooking time. If you’re entertaining guests while the oven is on, turn down your thermostat. The extra body heat along with the heat from the oven should suffice to keep you warm, depending on the size of your home.
If cold air is leaking in, you can be sure the hot air in your home is leaking out. This is a huge waste of energy and money that can be fixed with a little caulking and weather-stripping. Seal around windows, doors, baseboards, plumbing, ductwork, and even the fireplace.
Have you been waiting for a chance to break out your ugly holiday sweater? Now’s the time! Simply turning down the thermostat a few degrees can save you big bucks on your energy bill. When it’s cold out, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68°F while you're at home and awake, and setting it lower when you're asleep or away.
Gift yourself a programmable thermostat so you can automate these settings. Plus, adding automation to your home can increase its value.
Making your home merry and bright for the holidays shouldn’t mean overspending on energy costs. By adopting a few changes, you can make your dollars go further — not only this holiday season, but for all the holidays to come.