Holiday Smart Energy Living
Saving Money During the Holidays
Interested in saving money this holiday season? The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) offers some energy-saving tips so that you can spend less on utility bills to free up money for gift-giving this year.
Home Energy Use
Lighting, heating, cooling, and major appliances account for almost all the energy used in an average household. The holidays can inflate your bill due to increased heating costs, increased appliance usage, and additional lighting around your home.
Consider choosing LED instead of traditional incandescent bulbs for holiday lighting. LED lights last longer, only use about 15 percent of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs and generate a fraction of the heat.
Switching holiday lighting from incandescent to LED can reduce the cost to power those lights by more than 80 percent.
Another way to save electricity during the holiday season is by turning lighting off when it is not in use. Purchasing a timer or a smart plug to automatically turn your holiday lighting on and off can save both time and money. A Wi-Fi connected smart plug allows you to control holiday lighting through a smart phone or voice control device. There are some smart plugs that will provide energy monitoring data that provides how much your holiday display costs to run.
Heating your home can be costly. One way to keep your heating costs down is by turning your thermostat back 7⁰- 10⁰F when you are away from home. By making this change for 8 hours a day, you can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating costs. Keep areas around pipes heated to at least 40⁰F at all times; otherwise, you could risk your pipes bursting.
When you are home, you can also save on heating costs by keeping the thermostat set to an efficient temperature of 68⁰F during the day, and slightly lower at night. Using layered clothing and heavy blankets can help you stay comfortable despite these lower temperatures. A smart thermostat can automatically adjust heating (and cooling) temperatures during certain hours or when you are away from home.
Reduce heat loss by sealing air leaks around doors and windows. Heat is also lost through bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, so minimize the amount of time they are in use. Improve your furnace’s efficiency by replacing air filters every 1-3 months, as noted in the owners’ manual, and tune up your HVAC equipment yearly.
Increase Appliance Efficiency
You can reduce your home’s energy usage and save money by changing how you use your appliances:
For refrigerators, consider cleaning the coils every six months, so that the compressor does not have to work as hard. Additionally, minimize opening the door to keep cold air in. If you currently own two refrigerators, consider eliminating one or unplugging it when not in use. You may want to consider purchasing a newer model. Upgrading your refrigerator to meet the new energy efficiency standards will cost around $200 less per year in electricity than those produced in the 1980s.
To decrease the energy used by your water heater, keep the temperature at 120⁰F. Higher temperatures cause excess heat loss from the tank, and lower temperatures could cause bacteria build-up. However, if you have an older dishwasher, you may have to set your water heater to a higher temperature to get good results. Newer dishwasher models have built-in water heaters which allow the dishwasher to increase the temperature of the water. To determine whether your dishwasher has this feature, refer to your owner’s manual.
In addition to improving the efficiency of your water heater, there are some simple changes you can make to decrease hot water usage. Repairing leaky faucets, installing energy-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators is a good place to start. Washing full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine will also help. Consider using cold or warm water instead of hot water when doing laundry.
Cooking for guests can challenge limiting your energy usage. Implementing a few simple changes may help. One change is to use a microwave rather than a standard oven when possible; a microwave can use up to 80 percent less energy. Additionally, try to bake multiple dishes at once, keep the oven door closed as much as possible, keep oven burners clean, and use the correct size stove burner for efficiency.
Money saving alternatives rather than the oven:
- Slow Cooker
- Air Fryer
- Toaster Oven
- Instant Pots
Avoiding Vampire Power
Vampire power is the electricity that electronics continue to use when devices are not in use, but still plugged in. This costs the average household $165 per year on your energy bill. When practical, unplug all electronics with a standby mode. A power strip or smart power strip can make this simple. Implementing these changes is especially important when going on vacation, because devices can use a lot of vampire power in stand-by mode for an extended period of time.
For More Information
To learn more about how you can make simple changes to lower your utility bills, please visit www.occ.ohio.gov.
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