The weather is cold over the holidays, there are Christmas lights to power, and since it’s darker earlier, we all use more lights! But if you’re trying to live sustainably, there are still plenty of clever ways to reduce energy costs and stay sustainable throughout the holidays.
Change Out Your Lights
In 2013, a study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that energy use due to Christmas lights consumed an additional 2,220 gigawatt hours of electricity… and that switching to LED lights would save about one fifth of that energy! Do your part by switching out all of your holiday lights, both indoor and outdoor, to LED lights. Also, go through the house (and even the attic) to change existing light bulbs in the house to more energy conservative variations.
Check the Thermostat
For homes with a fireplace or other heater, consider burning locally harvested wood and turning down the thermostat. Not only will keeping a thermostat at 68 degrees or below help contribute to your sustainable lifestyle, but it can dramatically lower energy bills. Bringing out blankets to cuddle up under and using house slippers can help to keep you toasty even if your home’s temperature isn’t as high as it is normally.
Insulate Your Home
The vast majority of home energy use comes from heating and cooling: approximately 44 percent! Proper insulation can conserve the amount of energy your appliances have to spend to heat your home in colder months. Using weather-stripping on doors and windows can make a dramatic difference, but that’s not all! Using rugs and heavy window coverings can add another buffer layer which, spread over a whole home, can make a big impact. Cheap boards of insulation can be purchased at most home improvement stores and added to the rafters of basements or attics to help.
Look To Your Water Heater
Your water heater is another common source of energy expenditures! Adding insulation around your water pipes can help to conserve energy by reducing any heat lost between uses, and turning down its set temperature can reduce energy uses each time you use the hot water.
Have Lights On Less Often
Using less lights can help save energy, and ideally lights should not be on for any more than six hours a day. Turn lights off when you leave the house (Christmas tree lights, too!) or when you’re not in the room to be using them. And even when you are indoors, consider dimming the lights, or having less of them on when you’re getting cozy and watching television in the evening.
Burn Local Wood
Much of the wood bought for stoves and fireplaces is not sourced locally, so to reduce overall energy spent getting wood to you, look for locally cut wood. Local farmers markets are often a good source! If you burn man-made logs, consider using Java Logs, which are all-natural and made from coffee grounds… which produce compostable ash! And if you’re not burning anything? Always be sure to close the flue of your fireplace, which can let all the heat in your home escape when not properly set after all fires are done burning.
Planning To Go Out Less Often
Many people travel more in their cars during the holiday season, particularly to go shopping. Reduce fuel by trying to make one large trip rather than several, or by carpooling with friends and family. Another great option to reduce energy use (and carbon emissions!) is to try and source most of your gifts from local shops and craftsmen. Stocking up on winter staples can even help reduce trips to the grocery store. Driving less often also means you pay less for gas over the holiday season!
Disposing of Waste Properly
Where you can, be stringent of recycling even during holiday get togethers and parties! Waste disposal takes an immense amount of energy. You can also compost, where possible, to help reduce the need for fertilizers for your lawn and save energy, reducing the amount of waste which goes to landfills. Using plastic or paper disposable goods rather than styrofoam is also more eco-friendly.
What are some ways that you can practice sustainability during the holidays? Leave a comment below and share with us!