It’s that time of year again: the time when temperatures go down, lights come on earlier and energy bills go way up. In addition to encouraging you to winterize your house for the colder months, we here at SACE wanted to share with you some ideas for making your holiday plans as energy efficient and environmentally conscious as possible this season.
To do this, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite energy saving tricks to share with you. Whether you’re celebrating a calendar holiday or just a few days off from work, these tips will help you enjoy your holiday season to its fullest potential, while still keeping your energy use, environmental impacts and energy spending as low as possible.
1) Take an energy quiz.
Think you’re already doing all you can to save on energy? Learn where you stand by taking an energy quiz or two today, and test your energy IQ! Several cover a broad range of subjects, while others provide more detail about your personal energy consumption. Already tested your knowledge with these tests? Click here for some other popular energy quiz websites for even more ideas.
2) Calculate your carbon footprint.
Know all there is to know about energy, but still unsure of your personal impact? Carbon footprints are also great to learn just how much energy you are currently using to help you see where smart energy choices can reduce your consumption and your monthly bills, as well. Carbonfootprint.com and The Nature Conservancy provide a fairly simplistic way to do this.
3) Decorate with your energy bill in mind.
No winter season is complete without the ornamental lights, or the cheerful air of holiday scents and decorations inside and outside your home. Hang LED lights, and use timers to ensure that the lights are only on when necessary. Or better yet, opt for non-electrical decorations: Traditional candles are just as beautiful as accent lighting, if not more so. Plus, if you’re a fan of scented candles, certain smells might be able to add just the right feel to your holiday festivities.
4) Plan your cooking around low energy use or high efficiency appliances and techniques.
Don’t just map out your holiday menu: map out your kitchen’s energy use! There is a lot to be said for proper tools in the kitchen, and investing in the right cooking instruments can actually help you cut back on your energy use while helping you create delicious works of art. For example, did you know that glass and ceramic are better materials for baking than metal? They retain heat more fully, allowing you to turn the temperature down by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit and still cook quickly and more evenly than a metal pan.
But it’s not just about the right tools; you can save energy just by changing your cooking habits, too. Try cooking several dishes in the oven at once, and don’t waste energy pre-heating the oven if it’s not necessary. Give some serious thought to your cooking process, and you can easily start working towards making your seasonal cuisine with as little energy as possible.
5) Eco-Entertaining? Yes please!
This year, maybe you can take some time to consider how you can make your seasonal gatherings put less stress not only on yourself, but on the power grid as well. Invite your guests virtually; the average carbon footprint of an email is about one-sixtieth that of a letter – as long as you are not sending 60 email invitations for every one paper invite, you will still generate less of an impact. Suggest that your guests carpool, and bring ideas for board games and non-electric party fun as well as a pot-luck dish to share. And don’t forget, the more warm bodies you have in the home and the more you’re moving around, the lower you can set your thermostat.
6) Shop ‘til you drop – your carbon footprint, that is.
This holiday season, instead of rushing to the store and buying the latest energy-hogging kitchen gadgets or video game consoles, why not consider one of these more energy-friendly gift giving options? Reduce, recycle and reuse can apply to your gift giving too.
Reduce your loved ones’ energy impacts by giving them gifts that they would, or should, already be buying for themselves: energy-efficient light bulbs, for instance.
Reuse ideas of things you’ve created or done for your family that they have previously said they’ve enjoyed. Homemade presents aren’t just for arts and crafts time in elementary school; gifts that cost you more personal time, thought and consideration than electricity and money are often some of the best presents you can give.
Recycle someone else’s treasured possession and lower your own carbon footprint, by buying something used: Go old school or retro, and buy your uncle’s favorite childhood novel at a used bookstore.
Of course, not everyone on your holiday list can be satisfied with homemade jams, recycled board games, CFLs or symbolic donations. In that case, limit your shopping to as few trips as possible, and map out the closest route to all necessary stores. And perhaps your kids don’t need the latest Xbox 360 game; maybe this year it’s time to go non-electric, and buy something that can bring joy to your friends and family without an “On” switch.
Only you know your energy habits; this year, try to figure out the best ways you can save energy by altering your habits and traditions, without having to sacrifice any of the seasonal merriment.
Interested in learning about even more ideas for greening your holiday? Stay tuned and come back next week for a new blog on giving greenly this season! Until then, you can check out last year’s holiday blog series on efficient and eco-friendly decorating, cooking and entertaining. Happy Holidays!
Tags: carbon footprint, cooking, decorating, electricity, Energy Efficiency, energy quiz, holiday, Holiday2012, kitchen energy, light bulbs, residential energy efficiency, save energy, seasonal, shopping, travel
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