Holiday season is fast approaching, making for an expensive time of year for many homeowners. All the additional shopping, travel, hosting and gift-giving adds up quickly, and so do the bigger energy bills that come with heating a home during the coldest months of the year. Adorning the house and trees around it with electricity-sapping decorations doesn’t help either.
The most obvious energy-efficient solution would be to decorate your home with few or no lights at all, but for many families, this isn’t a very appealing option. Fortunately, if you are savvy about how you decorate, increased electricity costs are not a requirement of the season. Read on for tips on how to cut your home energy usage during the holidays without turning into a Grinch.
Switch to LED Options
Christmas tree lighting definitely increases the season’s electricity bills, but replacing incandescent holiday lights with energy-efficient LED lights can help. ENERGY STAR® qualified LED lights use 70 percent less energy while providing a brighter light. They also remain cool to the touch and are not made of glass or filament, making them safer for children. In addition, these bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescents, saving you money on replacements while ensuring that you have an energy-efficient solution for many years to come.
Purchasing an ENERGY STAR® qualified holiday light string may also yield further savings through coupons or rebates. When shopping for holiday lights, make sure to research rebate options before making a purchase.
Consider a Fiber Optic Tree
This year’s most special gift may not be sitting under the tree – it may be the tree itself. A modern fiber optic Christmas tree presents an energy-saving alternative, as the light comes from efficient LED bulbs. This gives you a similar look as a traditional tree for much less energy (and less cleanup when the holidays are over).
Use a Timer
One of the simplest ways to cut your energy bills is to limit electricity usage to periods when the decorations may be fully enjoyed. Delightful and festive as a giant inflatable Santa lawn ornament may be, it does not need to be powered 24/7 for the entire holiday season. Using automatic timers to turn lights off at the evening’s end is a good start, and you should also consider switching the lights off when you’re home alone. This saves the lights and the electricity for a time when more can enjoy it.
Limit Secondary Lighting
A brightly lit Christmas tree looks more impressive when it’s the only light source in the room. Conveniently, it’s also more energy-efficient to limit secondary lighting. If the tree is going to be lit, turn off other lights in the room so the tree can be fully enjoyed while energy usage is limited.
Locate Decorating Alternatives
Not all illumination has to come from decorative lights. Festive options such as ornaments and tinsel have highly reflective properties, making them the perfect complement to traditional lighting options. They’re also just as bright at night as they are during the day.
Add Candles to the Scene
Candles have been used in holiday decorating schemes for generations, and they’re also an efficient lighting alternative to electric bulbs. Light some candles in the evening to create a calming motif, but don’t forget about basic safety precautions. Be sure the candles are kept out of reach of small children and pets, and remember to extinguish them before going to bed. Or for additional safety, you could always purchase a few flameless candles, which provide all the same ambiance without worries about spilt wax or nearby fabrics catching on fire.
Wear Seasonally Appropriate Attire
When the weather turns cold, resist the urge to crank the temperature setting on your heater just so you and your family can be comfortable wearing t-shirt and shorts. Instead, break out the winter wardrobe and wear it inside the house, while also digging out those extra-warm blankets from the closet to use on your bed. Keeping yourself warm doesn’t have to be the responsibility of your heating system alone!
Consider Energy-Free Gifts and Decorations
About 40 percent of all batteries purchased during the holiday season are for decorations and gifts. This year, consider energy-free options for both, or add recharging stations to curb unnecessary waste. A bow, wreath or line of garland can convey the holiday spirit just as well as any light.
The holiday season is fast-approaching and homeowners who act now to lower their seasonal energy expenses can reroute those savings into increased holiday budgets for gifts and fun activities.