12 days of energy savings
You’ve seen this list before, but it’s still a good set of tips for the holidays from the U.S. Department of Energy:
Day 1: get a home energy audit
Give the gift of energy savings by purchasing a professional home energy audit for someone. The audit will help pinpoint where your home is losing energy — and what you can do to save money — by checking for air leaks, inspecting insulation, surveying heating and cooling equipment and more. By making upgrades to your home following a home energy audit, you could save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bills.
Day 2: install a programmable thermostat
Don’t pay for warm or cool air you aren’t using. Install a programmable thermostat to save money on your energy bills. Lowering your thermostat 10 to15 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 hours can save up to 15 percent a year on heating bills. If you are traveling this holiday, be sure to program your thermostat for energy savings while you are away.
Day 3: maintain your fireplace
It isn’t the holidays without a crackling fire, but don’t let your energy bills go up in smoke. Proper chimney maintenance — like sealing your fireplace flue damper, caulking around your hearth and installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow warmed air back into the room — will help keep warm air in your house and cold air out.
Day 4: prepare your windows for winter
Before you curl up on the couch in front of the window this holiday season, take steps to reduce heat loss. Weatherizing your windows can reduce drafts, and installing storm windows can cut heat loss through your windows by 25 to 50 percent.
Day 5: take advantage of sunlight
Use sunlight to your advantage this winter. Open curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally warm your home; close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
Day 6: buy ENERGY STAR electronics
Are computers, TVs or other electronics on your wish list this holiday season? Be sure to ask for ENERGY STAR home electronics for instant energy savings. For example, depending on use, an ENERGY STAR-qualified computer can save 30 to 65 percent more energy than other computers.
Day 7: purchase rechargeable batteries and an ENERGY STAR battery charger
If you are buying gifts that require batteries, use rechargeable ones, which are more cost effective than disposable ones, as well as an ENERGY STAR battery charger. In the U.S. alone, more energy-efficient battery chargers could save families more than $170 million annually.
Day 8: save energy in the kitchen
Between holiday baking and meal preparation, your oven is probably working overtime. Cooking alone accounts for 4.5 percent of your home’s energy use, and when factoring in other kitchen appliances, your kitchen’s energy use can be as high as 15 percent. Take simple actions such as using the right-sized — and covered — pots on stove burners, using the oven light to check on a dish’s progress and baking multiple items at the same time. Use a microwave or toaster oven instead of the stove where feasible.
LEDsDay 9: use
Light up your home with light-emitting diode lights. In addition to being sturdier and more resistant to breakage, LED holiday lights last longer and consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs about 27 cents to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights.
Day 10: install a timer
When decking your house in holiday lights, use timer controls to lower energy consumption and save money. The controls allow you to turn lights on and off at specific times, while staying in the holiday spirit.
Day 11: plug holiday decorations into power strips
Even when you aren’t using lights and electronics, they still draw small amounts of energy, averaging $100 a year. Plug your electronics into a power strip, and turn it off to reduce your energy bills.
Day 12: drive your way to fuel savings
Whether you are driving across town to do errands or across the country to visit family, fuel costs can add up. To save, do multiple errands on one trip. Also empty the car after your driving trips — an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could increase gas costs by up to 8 cents a gallon.