Whether Christmas or Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Festivus, the winter holidays are a time of bright lights, social gatherings…and big energy bills? Afraid so – the winter is at its coldest, commuters must contend with mileage-sapping snow and ice conditions, and most of us put a kilowatt or two worth of electric lights on the house. For most households, the timing of the increased bills couldn’t be worse, either – it’s no fun to try to scrape up the money for presents with three-digit utility bills weighing down the budget!
Luckily, there are some very simple ways to reduce your energy costs this winter. You don’t have to be Scrooge to know the wisdom of saving a few dollars during the holidays – and the nice part is, you don’t really have to sacrifice much at all in order to realize substantial savings. Three of the biggest expenses that you can cut out of the budget without feeling like the Grinch: obsolete lights, putting on a light show for nobody, and gas money for shopping trips that you could have done cheaper from your living room.
Just kidding, you don’t need to get rid of your decorative lights. But there are ways to make this expense, one of the largest line-item energy costs for many families, less of a burden. First off, if you haven’t done it already, it’s time to put those old incandescent light strings out to pasture, or at least get them on a retirement schedule. You can replace them with LED strands that are extremely beautiful, durable, and far, far cheaper to operate. Many serious lighting aficionados will buy entirely new lights every year anyway; if that’s not you don’t sweat it, but as old strands fail, replace them with the new type, not with more incandescent lights.
Get What You’re Paying For!
It never ceases to amaze energy auditors – sometimes folks will have every holiday light blazing at 3 PM or confusing late-night drivers with their automated Santa display and light show running at 3 AM. But manually activating lights day in and day out will quickly put a damper on your holiday spirit. No need – a simple timer, available at any hardware store, will soon have your display whirring along when its dark, and then going silent when there’s nobody around to see. Don’t set your lights to turn on before sunset; when to turn them off depends on your neighborhood and the tightness of your budget. Many homeowners only run the lights until 10 PM or so – if you have a lot of night owls who will enjoy seeing your display later than that, by all means leave them on longer. But get what you pay for – if nobody can see the lights, or nobody is awake to watch them, then do your wallet a favor.
Think about your gas costs when doing gift shopping, not just the cost of the gifts themselves. If you drive 30 miles to the mall and come back with a $20 gift, then after buying fuel you’ve really spent closer to $30. Sometimes buying local is the solution that saves the most money – but quite often, the efficiency of online shopping (no gas, no parking, no commute time, no repeat trips to stores) is far more cost-effective.
These three areas can be just the start of your holiday savings – but what a great start they are!Return to Blog