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The holiday season is full of love and light – literally! With so many extra lights, the holiday season puts energy consumption at an all-time high. In fact, lights on trees, rooftops, and lawns in the US account for 6.63 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption annually, which is more than the annual electricity consumption of entire countries! This adds up to $645 million in energy costs each year.
The extra energy use doesn’t just come from lights, though. All the travel, cooking, and shopping adds up. While we’re not trying to guilt anyone over enjoying themselves during the holidays, there are small changes we can all make to decrease our energy use even just a little bit to make an overall difference.
LED lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they can last up to 25 times as long! This makes for significant cost and energy savings in both the immediate and long term. You can go one step further and put your lights on a timer so that they shut off while you’re sleeping, which also helps to save on energy.
To learn more about how your holiday light usage might add up, check out typical usage info here to calculate what you can expect.
Being thoughtful about appliance usage can make a big difference. You can set your thermostat on a schedule, for example, so that the heat is lower whenever you’re not home or while you’re sleeping. If you’re traveling, set the thermostat as low as you can while you’re away. This will make a big difference in your energy bills!
It is also wise to unplug whatever appliances you aren’t using. Your coffee maker probably only needs to be plugged in in the morning, for example. The same goes for holiday lights if they aren’t on a timer. It can also help to use a power strip for multiple appliances, which can be shut off when not in use.
Ovens use a significant amount of energy. When baking, try to plan your schedule so that you can have multiple dishes in the oven at the same time. It also helps not to open the oven while it’s on, as this lets heat escape and forces the oven to produce even more heat to maintain the set temperature. Of course, you can avoid the oven altogether and only make no-bake recipes!
With the stove, it makes a difference to use the right pan. In fact, using the correct size pan (instead of one that’s too large for the burner) can help reduce energy waste by up to 40%. When it comes to reheating food, though, opt for the microwave over the oven. This can save up to 80% in energy use. And finally, when it comes time to do the dishes, it’s better to run a full dishwasher rather than wash everything by hand.
Travel and shipping account for a significant amount of emissions during the holiday season. By shopping and traveling locally, you can reduce your energy usage by quite a bit. Instead of shopping online, take local transportation (where possible) around town to shop for your loved ones. And when it comes to travel, going by train or by car will cut down on emissions significantly.
The holidays are a joyful period that can also be filled with stress and anxiety. Don’t let the pressure of being as sustainable as possible add to that! We are big believers that making reasonable changes is more important (and sustainable) than making vast, unrealistic ones. Remember that every little effort adds up, so whatever you are able to do this holiday season is enough.