10 Easiest Things You Can Do to Save Energy During the Holidays

How to be eco-conscious during the holiday season

1. Switch your twinkly lights to LED lights.

Energy use skyrockets around the holidays. A 2003 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy determined that Americans consume about 2,220 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity each holiday season by using standard incandescent holiday lights. The study found that a 20 percent shift by American households to LED lights would save 440 GWh of electricity during the estimated 30-day holiday season.

2. Lower your thermostat.

If there’s a fire burning in the fireplace, lower the thermostat to conserve energy (and save on your heating bill). You definitely can lower the temperature if you’re throwing a party — the body heat will more than make up for it. As a matter of fact, try to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) throughout the winter; you will see a huge difference in your energy bill.

3. Insulate your home.

Heating and cooling account for 44 percent of household energy use, and proper insulation slows the rate at which heat escapes in the winter. Be sure to plug up any leaks or cracks in your house, and if possible, replace windows with energy-efficient models.

4. Turn down the temperature of your water heater.

Keep your water heater at the warm (120 degrees Fahrenheit/50 degrees Celsius) setting and insulate the water pipes to decrease heat loss between uses.

5. Turn off the lights when you’re not home and while you’re asleep.

And that means your Christmas tree lights and any outdoor holiday lights too. Ideally, lights should be on for no more than six hours a day. Use mirrors to double the amount of light while the lights are on.

6. Plan your shopping trips carefully.

Make one trip to the mall instead of three, which will save gas. Walking to stores or carpooling with friends is even better. Another way to reduce fuel consumption is to buy locally; shopping in your hometown supports the local merchants and strengthens the community, and it cuts fuel use if you walk to town.

7. Burn better wood.

Cozying up to a crackling fire? Save a tree and burn some all-natural man-made logs instead. Java-Logs are the greenest option; made entirely from coffee grounds, they are 100 percent natural, and their ashes are compostable. These planet-friendly fireplace choices will keep you warm all night long. And when you’re not using the fireplace, close the flue and block the fireplace to prevent heat from escaping.

8. Avoid junk mail.

While Christmas shopping online or in stores, be sure not to get on the catalog mailing lists. Junk mail annually accounts for 53 million trees and enough water to fill 81 thousand Olympic-size pools. Go to www.catalogchoice.org or www.directmail.com to get off the lists.

9. Buy locally.

Buying food and goods locally is the best way to reduce energy use.

10. Dispose of your waste properly.

Disposing of waste properly ensures that less energy is used for unnecessary waste build up in landfills, recycling plants, and other waste collection centers. Help your community save energy by creating less waste and making sure it goes to the most resourceful locations.

Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day

From I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More by Anna Getty. Copyright © 2009 Chronicle Books. Republished with permission.

Read Composting Christmas, another excerpt from I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas.

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