Save on Your Holiday Electric Bill

Follow these nine tips to make your holiday season merry and bright with an energy bill that won’t cause you fright

By Leon Espinoza

Tip 1: Dim Your Bill With LED Lights

This one’s a no-brainer. LED holiday lights topple traditional incandescent lights for efficiency, which can mean big savings on home lighting bills. How big? Here’s the estimated cost of running each type of light string for 12 hours a day for 40 days:

  • Standard C-7 (125 bulbs, 4 watts each)—$25.13.
  • Mini incandescent lights (300 bulbs, 0.4 watts each)—$6.03.
  • LED holiday lights (280 bulbs, 0.04 watts each)—$0.56.

Beyond costing pennies on the dollar, LED lights are safer, sturdier, and longer-lasting. They are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risks of combustion; are made with epoxy lenses, not glass; and, according to the Department of Energy, could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.

Tip 2: Tap the Sun & Save A Buck

Speaking of LED lights, depending on where you live and the weather, solar-powered LED holiday lights can brighten an outdoor tree without tapping your electricity.

Tip 3: Use Reflective Decorations

You don’t need electricity to bring holiday shine. Silver bells, reflective ornaments, menorahs, and tinsel reflect their own glow.

Tip 4: Use a Timer

You can save a bundle by simply limiting the time your lights stay on. You don’t have to rely on memory. Use a timer.

Experts recommend setting timers to automatically go on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night, with eight hours being a sweet spot for savings. Timers are available at a price that typically won’t break the bank.

Tip 5: Cook Up Savings in the Kitchen

Cooking can account for almost 5% of home energy use. Add holiday gatherings to the mix, and that’s a recipe for higher energy bills. What’s a holiday host to do? Here are a few tricks:

  • Have a big holiday cooking day, baking many of the season’s delights—cookies, pies, fudge and more—all at once. This not only creates family fun time, but a chance to save energy because appliances don’t waste energy repeatedly heating up.
  • When possible, skip the conventional oven and use a microwave or range top, which use less energy.
  • Resist the urge to peek. Every time the oven door opens, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, forcing it to work even harder—and use more energy—to get back to the proper cooking temperature.

Tip 6: Let Your Visitors Warm Things Up

People create their own heat. Your holiday guests are likely to be wearing sweaters and other layers. When your guests arrive, turn down the thermostat. The combination of hot food and warm bodies should keep your home plenty toasty.

Tip 7: What About the Fireplace?

Want a lower energy bill? Make sure the damper is closed when your fireplace is not in use. Sorry, Santa. Otherwise, it is like having a window open in your house. Keep in mind that once a fire dies down, the chimney begins to suck remaining warm air from the room, forcing your heater to work overtime.

Tip 8: Turn Down the Temp Before You Leave

Before you go to see Grandma or Grandpa, turn down the thermostat, unplug electric devices and turn off lights and fans. Also, put your water heater on vacation mode.

Tip 9: Cozy Up

Save on heating by wearing a holiday sweater and a comfy pair of slippers around the house. There is a science to it. Heat escapes from your feet. Keeping them insulated will keep you warmer. When you see your winter bill, your heart may grow three sizes.