The holidays are here. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays. Try these tips for a more energy-efficient holiday season:
#1 SWITCH TO LED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
LED lights can use up to 90% less energy than standard lights. In fact, 300 bulbs of the mini incandescent bulbs at 0.4 watts each can use $6.03 per hour. The same number of LED lights use only 0.04 watts, bringing the cost down to around $0.60. And LED lights don’t produce heat, greatly reducing the chance of a fire.
#2 LIMIT THE TIME YOUR LIGHTS ARE ON
The best way to limit your light usage is to put them on a timer. If you don’t have a timer, simply turn your lights on after the sun goes down and turn them off before you got to bed. Try to limit your light usage to 6 hours or less per night.
#3 DECORATE WITH CANDLES
There are plenty of opportunities to decorate with candles instead of lights: along walkways, in windows, around the home during parties. However, candles are a fire hazard, so make sure you extinguish them before leaving the home or going to bed. And it’s best not to use them in areas where they will be unattended.
#4 PUT LIGHTS ON ENERGY STRIPS
Some strands of lights can continue to draw power even when they are turned off. Whenever possible, plug your lights and other electronic holiday decorations into power strips. Turning off the power strip that your decorations are plugged into keeps them from turning into energy vampires and draining power when not in use. Power strips also make it easier to turn off your decorations without having to walk around unplugging multiple plugs.
#5 USE FIBER OPTIC DECORATIONS
Most fiber optics use a single light bulb at the base to light the entire decoration. This can help reduce energy usage while also creating visual impact. The trick is to find a fiber optic decoration that’s not too tacky. That can be a challenge.
#6 TURN IT DOWN OR TURN IT OFF
If you’re baking a dish that will be in the oven for more than an hour, pre-heating is not necessary. Turn off your oven 5-10 minutes before the dish is done. As long as you aren’t opening the door, it will still continue to cook. You can also reduce the temperature by 25 degrees if you are baking in glass or ceramic. Both hold heat better than metal.
If you’re cooking on the stovetop, turn off your burner 5-10 minutes before you’re done cooking. The residual heat is more than enough to finish the job.
#7 USE SMALLER APPLIANCES WHEN POSSIBLE
Smaller appliances use less energy than the stove. If you can use a microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, or warming plate instead of the oven or stovetop, do it. Toaster ovens use half as much electricity as the oven for the same cooking time.
This same rule applies to pots as well. Using a pot too large for what your cooking wastes energy. Or using a pot too small for the burner size. Using the right sized pot can save you up to $36 monthly on an electric stove and $18 dollars on a gas stove.
#8 BAKE SEVERAL DISHES AT ONCE
Many holiday dishes require the same temperature to cook. Whenever possible, bake multiple dishes at once in the oven. You may need to rotate them depending on what you are cooking, especially if you want to get that crispy top to the mac n cheese.
#9 NO PEEKING
After you put your dish in the oven, leave it to cook. Every time you open the oven door to peek, the temperature can drop by as much as 25 degrees. The oven has a window and an oven light for a reason. Use it instead of opening the door. Opening the door can also cause your food to take longer to cook.
The same goes for pots on top of the stove. Food cooks more quickly when the lid is on the pot. Lifting the lid or leaving it off altogether is less efficient.
#10 REPLACE PANS THAT DON’T MAKE DIRECT CONTACT
We all have those older pans that have warped a bit and don’t sit flat on the stove. If you have a gas stove, these pots and pans are fine. With an electric range, you need to replace them with new pans. Electric stoves need direct contact with the surface of the pan to heat efficiently.
#11 DON’T BUY ELECTRONIC OR BATTERY-POWERED GIFTS
If you want to conserve energy, don’t buy gifts that require electricity. Battery-powered gifts contribute to waste, as well. 40% of all batteries are purchased during the holidays. And batteries last nearly forever in landfills.
#12 INVEST IN RECHARGABLE BATTERIES
If you must purchase battery-operated gifts, think about also purchasing rechargeable batteries and a battery charger to go with it. Rechargeable batteries might not help reduce electricity usage, but at least they reduce waste.
#13 BUY ENERGY STAR PRODUCTS AS GIFTS
It’s not just the big-ticket items like washing machines and refridgerators that are Energy Star rated. Small appliances and electronics are Energy Star rated as well. If you’re going to buy a television or audio product for a gift, check out this list of Energy Star rated products.
#14 USE YOUR FIREPLACE CORRECTLY
When the fire dies down, the chimney begins to suck in warm air from the room. To prevent this loss of heat, open the dampers if your fireplace has them. Otherwise, open the nearest window by about an inch. Also close the doors to the room to conserve heat and turn your thermostat down to 50-55 degrees.
Also burn only all-natural, man-made logs. Java logs are a great example. They burn for 4 hours, are made from recycled coffee grounds, and emit 78% less carbon monoxide.
#15 CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHRISTMAS TREE
It’s up to you whether you decide on a real tree or an artificial tree. Both have a break-even point. Real Christmas trees come from farms and while they grow, they reduce carbon dioxide in the air. As long as you get your tree locally, you’re fine, but dispose of it properly by composting or taking it somewhere that mulches it. If you buy an artificial tree, it takes 9 years of use to break even from the environmental impact of its production. But artificial trees can’t be recycled, so donate it or give it to someone who will use it when you are done with it.
I hope this list has been insightful. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the holidays while still being environmentally-conscious. From all of us here at Brite Homes Florida, Happy Holidays!