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Holiday Energy Use Can Surprise You Later

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 The hustle and bustle of the holiday season often leads to a surprise when the monthly energy bill arrives.  People often use more energy this time of year for several reasons.  However, planning ahead can help alleviate some of the potential energy sting.

1.      More general lighting is used:  Lighting use increases when daylight decreases.  Control costs by making sure lights are turned off when leaving a room.  Change your most commonly used incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs to help save energy.  Replacing a 75 watt incandescent bulb with a 20 watt CFL equivalent saves you 55 watts of energy right from the start.  Change more bulbs and the small savings adds up.

2.      Holiday lights and decorations:  This is a huge area that you can have some control over the amount of energy used.  The person who features the beautiful lighting display in your neighborhood probably has the largest energy bill as well.  Lights may use just a few watts individually, but try adding up several hundred or thousand bulbs and you can see where your energy dollars go.  Light emitting diode (LED) holiday bulbs have grown in popularity and costs have dropped.  LED lights use a fraction of the energy compared to regular decorative bulbs.  They aren’t made of glass, are durable, give no heat and may last up to 10 times longer.  LEDs may still cost a bit more, but the cost pays off in long-term energy savings.

3.      There’s more cooking and baking:  Family gatherings always lead to eating food.  Consider using the microwave or a crock pot if possible to help cut energy use.

4.      Cooler temperatures:  We can’t control the weather.  Regardless of your heating source, you’re going to use more energy this time of year because of a greater temperature difference between the outside and inside of your home.  You can save some money by turning the inside temperature down.  Each degree you lower the thermostat can add up to about 3% in savings.  Also investing in caulking, spray foam and insulation can help keep the heat inside where it belongs.

5.      Having friends and/or family stay over:  More people in the home usually leads to increased energy use.  Besides cooking, more hot water is used due to extra showers, baths and laundry.  Other electronics and appliances can be used more too.

Think ahead and prepare to use energy more efficiently at your home during the holiday season.  That way you won’t be surprised when the next bill arrives.  A number of energy tips to help keep more money in your pocket can be found at