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Have an Energy-Efficient Holiday

'Tis the season for decking the halls, indulging in delicious treats and celebrating with family and friends. It is also a time when energy usage can increase; having a significant impact on your finances and the environment. However, you don't have to become a Scrooge to conserve energy during the holidays. Here are a few simple ways to be energy-conscious while celebrating the most wonderful time of the year!

Lighting and Decor

Switch to LED Christmas lights. LED Christmas lights are brighter, last longer and use less electricity than the traditional, incandescent lights. Although LED lights may cost a bit more than incandescent lights, these benefits make up for the small price difference.

Opt for Fiber Optic Decorations. Pre-lit, fiber optic trees and decorations use LED bulbs that use a lot less energy than traditional incandescent lights, with the added benefits of being shatterproof, shock-resistant, and cool to the touch.

Use a timer to manage lights. Set timers to automatically turn your holiday lights on and off at the appropriate time. To cut down on energy costs, the recommended daily timeframe that lights should be on is eight hours or less (usually starting at dusk and shutting off by bedtime). To safely control exterior lights around your home, use a weatherproof outdoor timer.

Decorate without lights. Forgo using Christmas lights for decoration and use reflective ornaments, candles, ribbons and garland instead. Battery-operated candles are a much safer option than regular candles and will still provide a beautiful holiday glow without adding to your electric bill. Festive ribbon, garland and shiny ornaments can be used throughout the house to decorate staircases, entryways, mantels and so much more!

Turn off the room lights. Set the holiday mood and conserve power by using the lights on your Christmas tree to light the room and turn off the light fixtures (e.g. lamps, ceiling lights). If you have a fireplace, light it. The flickering glow from the flames can provide sufficient lighting and warm the room at the same time. Remember to close the flue when the fireplace is not in use to ensure heat isn't escaping up the chimney.

Heating

Use less when you have guests. Turn down the thermostat and take advantage of having guests in the house to generate body heat. If you are cooking while entertaining, leave the oven door open (after you're done) for a few minutes to circulate warm air back into the room. The combination of warm bodies and a hot stove should keep everyone cozy and comfortable.

Light the fireplace. Not only does lighting your fireplace add ambiance to holiday festivities, but it can also add some warmth to the room. You can also conserve heat by closing off some rooms.

Don Your Winter Apparel. Whether it’s your favorite ugly sweater or the onesie pajamas you received as a gift last year, wear these items around the house to keep warm and avoid turning up the heat.

Holiday Cooking

Keep your lid on.  Food will cook faster and require less energy when you keep the lids on pots and the oven door closed while cooking.  Use a timer to prevent overcooking and use the oven light to check the progress of food in the oven.  It takes the same amount of energy to heat a full oven as it does a nearly-empty one, so make the most of the energy used by cooking or baking several dishes at once when possible. 

Use small kitchen appliances for quick tasks. Reserve the oven for large cooking tasks like roasting a turkey; and consider using the microwave or toaster oven for the smaller tasks, like melting chocolate for dipping and warming up leftovers.  Using a microwave instead of an oven can reduce energy usage by 50 percent or more.

Shopping

Give the gift of energy-efficiency.  If large appliances and electronics are on your shopping list, look for ENERGY STAR labeling on those items.  ENERGY STAR-certified products use up to 60 percent less electricity than non-certified electronics.   Visit ENERGY STAR Canada for a list of qualifying models to ensure that your gift will not only fulfill your loved ones’ wishes but will help them save energy as well.

Be an energy-savvy shopper.  A smart shopper will find the best deals, but an energy-savvy shopper will conserve energy and reduce waste.  Shop online, carpool, use mass transit and avoid multiple trips to the store to reduce your carbon footprint.  Give gifts that are energy-efficient, recyclable or made of natural products.  Reduce waste by investing in rechargeable batteries and chargers – these items make great stocking stuffers, especially if you’re giving gifts that require batteries.

Traveling

Beware of "Energy Grinches". Just as the Grinch Stole Christmas, many electronics like TVs, DVDs, gaming consoles and computers actually "steal" energy when they are plugged in, but not in use. This is also known as phantom energy loads (or energy vampires). Before you head over to grandma's house for the holidays, remember to unplug these devices to save on energy costs while away.

Following these tips will reduce energy consumption and help you avoid the post-holiday shock of an inflated energy bill next month. From our family, here at Direct Energy to yours, happy holidays!