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Holiday Energy Efficiency

Thanksgiving

Check out our top 10 tips to ensure your electric bill will look as good as your Thanksgiving dinner.

1.     If a large group of people is expected for dinner, lower the thermostat a degree or two before the guests arrive. Otherwise, since people generate heat, the space may become wastefully overheated.
2.     Check the refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure they seal tightly. This will keep the cold air in and the warm air out. To test, close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill. If you can slip the bill out easily, or worse, if it falls out on its own, the door requires adjustment, or the gasket needs replacing.
3.     Allow hot foods and liquids to cool before putting them in the refrigerator. Uncovered, hot food and liquids give off vapors that make the refrigerator work harder. Use a lid or plastic wrap to cover the food and place in the refrigerator after cooling.
4.     Use a “lids-on” approach to cooking. Tightly fitted lids on pots and pans help keep heat in, enabling you to lower the temperature settings and shorten the cooking times.
5.     When boiling liquids, start by using the highest temperature settings to reach the boiling point. Then lower the heat control setting and allow the food to simmer until fully cooked.
6.     Use the microwave instead of your regular oven whenever possible. Microwave ovens draw less than half the power of your regular oven, and they cook for a much shorter period of time.
7.     When preheating your regular oven, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be enough time. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
8.     When using an electric oven, cook as much of your meal as possible in it at one time. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature – variations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
9.     After the feast, many people put the leftovers in a second refrigerator in their garage. This can be bad for both the food and the energy bill. If you live in a cold climate, frozen foods may melt (as the temperature sensor in the refrigerator will not activate the compressor if the temperature in the garage is 42 degrees Fahrenheit or lower). And if you live in a warm climate, the refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep the food cold. If you have a second refrigerator, consider placing it in the basement or other insulated area of your home.
10.  Finally, when all of the cooking is done, don’t use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle unless a major cleaning job is needed. Wipe up minor spills and splatters with a damp cloth. When you do use the oven’s self-cleaning feature, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of electricity is lowest.

 

Winter Holidays

The winter holiday season will soon be upon us and with it comes the frenzy of decorating, holiday gatherings, gift buying, and errand running. Don't let your energy-saving efforts fall by the wayside amid all the festivities; the tips below will help you save energy and money even as you celebrate.
 
Use LED Holiday Lights
LED—or light-emitting diode—holiday lights are much more efficient than traditional incandescent lights. While the initial purchase price of LED light strings is higher, consider the cost of running each type of light string for 12 hours per day for 40 days:
 
LED light strings also last longer and are safer to use than traditional incandescent light strings. Learn more about the advantages of LED holiday lights on EnergySavers.gov, and visit the ENERGY STAR® site to find manufacturers and brands.
 
Entertain Efficiently
Holidays often bring many guests—which usually means lots of food and cooking. Check out these tips on energy-efficient cooking for great ways to save in the kitchen. And when your guests arrive, be sure to turn down the thermostat—the combination of the stove, the hot food, and the warm bodies should keep the house plenty comfortable.
 
Purchase Energy-Efficient Gifts
Whether your goal is to help the recipient save money or just to give that cool gadget, there are plenty of options for energy efficient gifts.
·         Electronics are always popular gifts, and you can fulfill your loved ones' wishes while also helping them save energy by purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified electronics. If a new television is on your list, more strict requirements for ENERGY STAR labeling went into effect just last month, so be sure to search for an ENERGY STAR qualified TV. (Also, if you or a loved one are sticking with your analog-only TV and do not subscribe to cable or satellite services, you'll need a converter box for the February 17, 2009, switch to digital-only broadcasts in the United States. An ENERGY STAR digital-to-analog converter box will ensure that the television still works and will save energy. Also be sure to apply for a coupon to help offset the cost of the converter box).
·         Computer and office equipment and appliances also receive ENERGY STAR labeling, so do your homework before buying!
·         Rechargeable batteries (and chargers) and LED bulbs may not be at the top of anyone's list, but they make great stocking stuffers and the savings will surely be appreciated.
·         Time and skills are always good gifts. Help someone on your list complete a do-it-yourself home energy audit, or help them air seal their house, install insulation, or insulate their old water heater tank. Your gift will keep on giving as they see savings throughout the year.
 
Combine Errands to Reduce the Number of Trips You Take
The errands and to-dos just seem to pile up this time of year! We are always out and about, picking up one more thing for dinner or one more gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, all of these errands add up; several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm, according to Fueleconomy.gov. Plan to combine multiple errands into one trip to be as efficient as possible. Also check out other tips for efficient driving from Fueleconomy.gov.

 

SOURCE: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-save-energy-during-holidays