How to Lower Your Energy Costs During the Christmas Season

Around here, we’re big believers in the idea that energy stewardship is part of living an authentic Christian life. But during the holiday season, energy costs can skyrocket. (Just ask Clark Griswold.)

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between energy conservation and holiday celebrations. Here’s how to live it up during the Christmas season and lower your energy costs at the same time.

1. Use LED Christmas lights.

If you haven’t made the switch yet, it’s time to replace your antiquated Christmas lights with LED lights. LED lights use less energy than traditional lights. But the big savings are found in the fact that LEDs last up to 20 years. With LEDs, you can finally stop making your annual pilgrimage to Walmart to replace burned out light strings.

2. Fire up the microwave and slow cooker.

Food and Christmas go hand in hand. By using the microwave whenever possible, you can save serious energy dollars. Microwaves cook food faster (obviously) and reduce energy use by as much as 75 percent compared to traditional ovens. Even better, plug in the slow cooker. According to energy experts, you can cook a complete meal in a slow cooker for less than 17 cents.

3. Use your dishwasher.

Dishwashing is the downside of holiday foods and feasts. No one wants to be stuck at the sink and the good news is that you can save money by using your dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. The California Energy Commission says that dishwashers use 17 percent less water than washing by hand — savings that can be extended if you wait to do full loads and use your machine’s energy-saving cycles.

4. Check your thermostat.

Thermostats are low-hanging fruit for energy savings. Installing a programmable thermostat that lowers the temperature when you’re not home is common sense. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning back your thermostat 10-15 degrees for 8 hours each day can reduce your annual heating and cooling costs by 10 percent. When the heat is on, the ideal thermostat setting is 66 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Extra Tip: On south-facing windows, keep the curtains open during the day and closed at night to further lower your energy costs.

5. Service your furnace and adjust your hot water heater.

By replacing your furnace filter each month, you can maximize heating efficiency. Annual service appointments also help ensure that your furnace is operating at peak levels. For even more savings, set your hot water heater to 120 degrees and lower water heating costs by 10 percent or more.

It’s inevitable that your costs (including energy) will increase during the Christmas season and that’s okay. If you can’t splurge a little bit to celebrate the birth of Christ, then what’s the point?

But wasting energy for no good reason? That’s another story.

Do yourself and the earth a favor this Christmas. Have fun and celebrate the season, but be proactive about findings way to lower your energy costs.