- Turn Down the Thermostat
Most people already know that using a programmable thermostat can save 10% of annual energy costs, and are pretty good about keeping the temperature at a reasonable level most of the time. But when you’re having people over, you might be tempted to turn the thermostat up, since you don’t want your guests to be uncomfortable. The thing to remember is that just having more people in your house will increase the temperature, as will cooking. So by lowering the thermostat, you’ll save some energy and make sure people don’t overheat.
- Unplug Appliances Before You Leave
If you’re going out of town during the holidays, make sure to unplug “phantom” energy users like TVs, computers and even coffee makers. There’s no reason for them to be pulling residual amounts of power when no one is around to use them.
- Enjoy the AmbianceIf you’re putting up decorative lights this Christmas, use them to replace, rather than supplement, your regular lighting sources. You don’t need to have the overhead lights or table lamps blazing away when your tree is illuminated -- and you’ll get a better effect with the other lights off, anyway. (If you really want to be smart about your tree lights, consider LED strings; they cost a little more, but draw only a fraction of the energy that traditional lights do.)
- Choose Efficient Gifts
The savings of this strategy stretch far beyond the month of December. When you’re doing your gift shopping, prioritize buying energy-efficient electronics. Basically, energy efficiency means using less energy to achieve the same effect: using less power without making any sacrifice in function. For that reason, it’s often called the “fifth fuel” (coal, petroleum, nuclear power and renewable energy sources being the other four). If you’re purchasing someone a battery-operated gift, make rechargeable batteries and a charger part of the package.
- Look at Your Electric Company OptionsIf you haven’t investigated it already, the holidays are the perfect time of year to find out if you’re in a deregulated energy market. If you are, you might be able to buy your power from an alternative electric company but still have it delivered through the local utility like you always have. Deregulation gives you the chance to do some comparative rate shopping and to support energy companies who have business models you agree with. You can even research companies charitable and community contributions and choose the company that is the best fit for you.
Share your tips in the comments.