Everyone “oohs and ahhs” over the twinkling, sparkling holiday lights at this time of year. But the holiday season and cold temperatures are the perfect combo for high electricity bills. (Just watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and behold Clark Griswold’s Christmas light display disaster.)
There are ways to be more mindful of energy use and maximize savings during the holiday and winter season. Follow these tips to help lower your electric bill in winter:
Be mindful of unplugging
Even when you're not actively using electronics, keeping them plugged in still uses what's called "standby power." The Department of Energy estimated that this can cost the average household about 100 a year. Make it a habit to unplug electronics, small appliances and holiday lights as soon as you're done using them. Remember that even if you're away for the holidays, unplugging everything can save you money on your electrical bill.
Choose LED options
When it's time to put up the festive lights, the type of a bulb can have a significant impact on electricity cost. In the LED vs CFL light bulb debate, LEDs win on energy efficiency. That's why LED string lights and bulbs are no-brainers when you want to cut the cost of lighting up your home for the holidays.
Use holiday decor as lighting
Follow these electrical safety tips when setting up your holiday lights, and then be mindful of turning other lights off when you're using the festive ones. For instance, when the Christmas tree is plugged in, switch off other lights in the room to enjoy the cozy glow while helping to save money on your electric bill.
Wait until the sun goes down to turn on your outdoor lights and be sure to turn them off before you go to bed. The Balance recommends having them on for six hours or less each day to avoid a high electricity bill. Set a timer so you don't forget to turn them off each night. While you're at it, set a timer on your phone or programmable thermostat to manage the heat.
Check the thermostat setting
The Department of Energy recommended lowering your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees when you're asleep or away from your house. Even if you have to throw on a sweater or double up on the blankets, turning down the heat can save you about 10 percent a year on your utility bills. If you have several guests over, the temperature in the house will naturally rise so that's also a great opportunity to knock the heat down a few degrees.
Keep the warm air inside
Seal air leaks around doors and windows with caulk or weather-stripping to make sure warm air stays put and chilly drafts can't sneak their way inside. If you have particularly drafty windows, the Department of Energy also advised sealing the windows with heavy-duty, clear plastic wrap.
Decorate with cozy rugs
Not only are rugs a fabulous decorative element, but they can also help insulate your spaces. As a personal bonus, they also feel warm and cozy on your feet.
Do smart laundry
You can conserve in the laundry room by only washing and drying full loads, plus hanging clothes to dry whenever possible.
Reverse ceiling fans
Direct Energy offered this pro tip: turn your fan clockwise and set it at a lower speed. Rather than creating a cool airflow, this will push warm air down to help heat up your spaces.
Close the chimney damper
When you're not using the fireplace to warm your spaces, close the chimney damper. This will prevent warm air from escaping up through the chimney and will stop cold drafts from making their way inside.
Consider energy efficient upgrades
The golden rule for saving money now and all year long is choosing energy saving options whenever you can. Programmable thermostats, electronics, smart devices, appliances and more are all waiting for you to let them work their energy- and money-saving magic.
Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.