The holidays are a time of joy, good cheer, and excess. From Aunt Muriel's indulgent cake to gifts galore and lights everywhere, it's easy to set aside your environmental standards. We make it easy for you to lower your impact -- and your electricity bill -- this holiday season with 5 easy steps.
1. LED holiday lights: Let's be honest - a Christmas tree isn't finished until it's bright enough so you can see it from space. That said, holiday lighting in the US consumes the equivalent electricity consumption of 500,000 homes in one month. Invest in LED lights - they use only 10% of electricity needed to light incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. And, they don't get hot - reducing the risk that your tree will go up in flames.
How to: Recycle your incandescent lights at holidayleds.com and receive 25% off your purchase of LED lights. Or, drop off your old lights at area MOM's Organic Market. Grab LED lights at ACE Hardware, Target, and other major retailors. See how much energy your lights use with this fun calculator.
2. Give the gift of efficiency: Buying anything electric powered this year? Check energy efficiency ratings like Savenia Labs and Energy Star to find the most efficient options. Energy Star appliances are in the top 25% of their product for energy efficiency. Locally based Savenia Labs shows you the lifetime energy cost of a product -- now including single cup coffeemakers like Keurig, Tessimo, and more. Find out which costs $200 to run 5 years.
How to: Find Savenia Lab product labels at DC and Maryland ACE Hardware and Strosnieders stores. EPA Energy Star appliances are clearly marked.
3. Take it down a notch: Turn down your thermostat. Yes, we know its cold, but you can save 2% - 3% on energy costs for EACH DEGREE you turn down your thermostat. So, crank it back from 75 degrees to 68 (or better yet, 65), and you can save about 10% on your annual electricity bill. Just be sure to get yourself a good pair of slippers!
How To: Just crank down your thermostat. Even better, invest in an Energy Star programmable thermostat.
4. Caulk and Weatherstrip: It's not the most glamorous tip, but according to every major weather outlet, it's going to be a cold winter for the Mid-Atlantic. So, caulk up those leaky windows and put weatherstripping on your doors to improve your insulation. Then, you'll stop heating the whole neighborhood and keep that warmth inside!
How to: Stop by your local hardware store and pick up some caulk and weatherstripping. Enlist your friends, in-laws, and children to help as payment for staying with you over the holidays
5. Be Good to You: Let's be honest, sometimes during the holidays we need to be efficient with our own energy. The holidays don't have to be filled with stress and chaos. This year, take some time to reflect on friends, family, and all the things you are thankful for. It's an energy efficiency tip worth remembering!
How To: Make some time for yourself, try not to put yourself in stressful situations, and remember to have fun!