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5 Ways to Conserve Energy During the Holiday Season

Remember how much you used to complain when your parents told you to put on a sweater rather than monkeying around with the thermostat, or turn off the lights when you left a room? Now that you’re an adult responsible for paying the electric bill, however, you’re probably spouting the same directives to your own kids. But even with these rules in place, you may see a spike in your energy usage (and your utility bills) over the busy holiday season. So here are a few extra ways to conserve even when your demand is higher.

  1. Program your thermostat. It’s surprising how many people upgrade to digital, programmable thermostats and then fail to use them to their advantage. When you program in a schedule that accounts for the daily absence of inhabitants (when your family members are at work and school, for example) you stand to dramatically cut energy usage while still enjoying a warm, cozy interior when you arrive home after a long day in the cold. Best of all, many systems come with a lock so that kids can’t override your settings.
  2. Switch to LED lights. The holidays are a time when most families festoon their homes with festive decorations, including seasonal strings of lights. But instead of jacking up your energy usage exponentially, consider purchasing LED lights this year. They use a fraction of the energy required for standard holiday lights, they last a lot longer, and they burn even brighter.
  3. Install a smart home system. You may find yourself traveling over the holidays to visit with family and friends. And you might be tempted to turn on exterior lights or set indoor lights and electronics on a timer to make it look like someone is in residence (as a way to deter thieves). But installing a home security system complete with smart home controls is a far wiser (and more energy efficient) alternative. Not only will the alarm keep intruders at bay, but your system may allow for remote controls via your smartphone or tablet so that you can randomly turn lighting and electronics on and off in your absence.
  4. Go to bed early. The cold weather and truncated daylight have no doubt put you in the mood to hibernate anyway, so think about calling it a night earlier than usual during the winter. You’re going to need to be well-rested to deal with the incursion of your family over the holidays anyway, so save some energy (and money) along the way by hitting the hay early and turning off lights and electronics that would normally suck up energy late into the evening hours.
  5. Upgrade your heating. When it comes to the debate between electric vs. gas heat, you might not necessarily see the benefits of one or the other. Obviously, electric heating will require more energy while gas uses another resource. But either way you’re paying utility bills. Here’s the thing, though. Suppose you’ve got a gas furnace running forced air into your home via a central duct system. Since air cools quickly, this system is bound to kick on frequently. If, however, you have electric elements producing radiant floor heating, just for example, that heat is going to permeate flooring (especially stone) and rise through the entire room, heating your home for less. On the other hand, an energy efficient central air system could cut your usage enough that there might not be a significant difference in your monthly costs. So if you want to ensure greater energy efficiency and a toasty interior, you might want to consider the benefits of upgrading your heating system in some way.

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