Save on Your Winter Energy Bills With These Tips
If you want to have a bountiful holiday season, but don’t want to pay more for energy than you have to, you can adopt some green strategies that will help you spare the environment while keeping some green in your pocket.
Save Energy and Money on Christmas Lights
One of the big innovations in Christmas lighting is the use of LED’s. This new light technology relies on semiconducting material instead of incandescent filaments. Making the change to these new lights can save you up to 90% on energy. These are long-life lights, up to 100,000 hours, and when one goes out, the rest on the string will stay illuminated. You’ll still have the cost of changing your old lights for the new style, but if you’re into lighting up the neighbourhood over the holidays, it can save you a bundle over time. If this technology catches on in your area, you may even start to see rebates or free exchanges from your local power company.
Saving on Energy in the Kitchen
If you’re eating in over the holidays, there are some easy things you can do in the kitchen to save energy. We all waste energy around the home, and a big culprit is food preparation and handling.
Clean The Oven
Your oven uses energy most efficiently when it can reflect heat easily off the interior walls, top, and bottom. It is the dirtier, the harder it has to work. Take heart; oven cleaning isn’t as nasty as it used to be. There are oven-cleaning products on the market that cut through grease and baked-on food fast with less mess and fewer fumes.
Clean Your Stovetop
Clean the trays or bowls under your stovetop elements. The same principle of reflected heat works here too. If your reflector bowls are dirty, your elements will work inefficiently, using more energy to do less. If the bowls have gotten old and the finish has worn off, replace them. You can find online sources for generic replacement parts for most stoves. All you need is a manufacturer and model number.
Watch Your Hot Water Use
Using hot water when you could use cold instead makes your hot water heater cycle on more frequently. Your innocent-looking water heater is one of the biggest energy guzzlers in your home, and using some restraint can help you stop sending energy dollars down the drain.
If you hear your hot water heater cycling on more than it used to, replace leaky faucet gaskets, and consider investing in a water heater blanket for additional insulation.
Clean Your Refrigerator’s Condenser Coils
Your refrigerator works harder to keep the chill box cold when the condenser coils on the back or bottom of the unit are dirty. Every couple of months, get out your vacuum cleaner and clean the coils thoroughly. While you’re at it, don’t forget the chest freezer in the garage.
Another way you can save energy with your fridge is to make sure your door gasket is making a good, tight seal. Clean your gasket once a month with warm soapy water, and periodically close your refrigerator door on a piece of notepaper. If the paper slips, your gasket needs to be replaced.
Actually, if you are cooking over the holidays, you may get a bit of a break on refrigerator energy efficiency. Your refrigerator works at peak performance when it’s full. The more cold objects you have inside, the more their denser mass helps the fridge stay cold. If you want to maximize this benefit, keep items you often use near the door and be sure to group your visits to the refrigerator, so you don’t open the door any more frequently than you have to.
Bake Smart to Save Energy During the Holidays
When you’re baking holiday pies or cookies in batches, take advantage of the hot oven by having one batch prepped and ready to go as the previous batch comes out. The investment in another cookie sheet will be worth it. Another way you can save on energy is by placing some prepped dishes in a cold oven and letting them heat up as the oven heats. If you’re apprehensive about the outcome, try it first with recipes you’ve prepared often.
No one ever said that you always have to bake using the oven, either. Slow cookers, microwave ovens, and pressure cookers can all be used to prepare a variety of dishes, often using less energy than your conventional oven.
Control Your Heat to Save on Energy
If you have fans, switch the orientation of the fan blades when the cold weather rolls in. As the hot air from your furnace starts to rise toward the ceiling, the fan will move it back down to where it will do some good.
If you don’t have a thermostat, invest in one. You’ll be able to control your heat consumption better when you can schedule on and off hours and set temperature defaults. That way, your home will be comfortably warm when you need it, and the heat will cut back automatically at night or when you’re not around.
Any energy savings is valuable, but when you can implement a number of these energy-smart practices, you will start to see a noticeable impact on your bill, and that’s a Christmas present worth having.