The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Gift-giving, decorating, travel plans, shorter days, and cold temperatures take a toll. This year we have gathered efficiency advice from the Lime Energy team to help lighten your (energy) load for this December and for winter months to come.
At Lime Energy, we promote energy efficiency throughout the year. No matter what the calendar says, you can save money with LED lights or more efficient appliances. But, few months offer more unique savings opportunities than the month of December. Not only are utility bills higher because of colder temperatures, but festive families across the country are adorning their homes, their trees, and their lawns with energy-intensive decorations.
If you fall in any of these categories, the members of the Lime Energy team want to help. They have submitted their suggestions for the best energy savings advice for the holiday season. Below is some of the most popular, most creative, and most effective advice to minimize your energy consumption and save on energy costs.
Tips for Decorating Your Home
- Lights on Timers: One of the most popular suggestions from the Lime team was for homeowners to install timers for decorative lights. If you let your holiday decorations shine all night (or worse, all day), you are consuming energy without seeing much benefit. By turning off the lights while the sun is out or your neighborhood is asleep, you can save precious dollars on your utility bill. Buying an inexpensive timer is an easy way to avoid the inconvenience of having to unplug your string lights or your blow-up lawn Santa every evening. As Nicole in Marketing explained, “If you are not at home or if you go to sleep, you aren’t enjoying the lights so you should turn them off. If you can put them on a timer, that’s ideal.”
- LED String Lights: If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that we frequently recommend LED lights. Why should the holidays be any different? Just like interior LED lights that come in a variety of options, string lights are available with both warm and cool light. That means that if you want to decorate your home with lights that mimic the warm glow of a traditional string of incandescent lights, there are plenty of LED options to suit your needs. But, if you want that sharp, blue-ish light associated with older LED bulbs, you can buy those too. One piece of advice from James in Product Development: if you are switching from incandescent to LED string lights, see if your utility offers any incentives. James has heard of at least one utility that offers a free one-to-one swap of a string of old lights for a new LED string.
- Turn Down Your Thermostat: This was by far the most frequent piece of advice shared by the surveyed energy experts. Throughout the Lime family, consensus is that if you can tolerate your home a few degrees cooler, there are huge energy savings available. And a few degrees can be all it takes – you don’t have to shiver or bundle into all of your thickest sweaters. As Tom from Business Development explains, “you can save five percent of the cost of your energy for every one degree you turn down your thermostat.”
- Invest in a Wireless Thermostat: If you find yourself struggling to keep your thermostat at a cost-effective temperature, or if you have already maxed out the manual heating savings in your home, it might be time to upgrade to a wireless thermostat. These nifty gadgets allow you to control your home’s heating and cooling remotely – you can turn up your heat as you drive home from grandmother’s house to ensure your home is cozy when you arrive. High-end wireless thermostats can also adapt to your habits. They adjust the temperature for you if you are home at an unexpected time or if you left the temperature up when you departed. This idea comes from Mo, Lime’s Senior IT Specialist. About his new thermostat, Mo says, “We love it – it shows you how much energy you use each month and lets you see your savings right away.” Mo also appreciated the information available, praising the ability to “look at that usage online and use that information to control everything.” If you are willing to pay the upfront cost of a wireless thermostat, the investment will pay for itself while giving increased temperature control year-round. Plus, they make great gifts!
- Seal Your Home: This piece advice is really a combination of many different suggestions about how to prevent cold air from leaking in. Who knew your house or apartment had so many holes? James, our Talent Acquisition Specialist, suggests using insulating tape around your windows and doors to keep chilly winter air outside where it belongs. Chris in Marketing says that if you aren’t using your fireplace, remember to close your flue. Chris also has found that opening your curtains during the day lets the sunlight heat your home for you. Lastly, James in Product Development has advice for everyone with a window air conditioning unit: “If you plan to take it out, now is the time. If you are leaving it in, cover it from the outside so the cold air doesn’t draft in.”
The Season of Giving
- Efficient Appliances: If you are still looking for the right gift, are moved by the spirit of energy efficiency, and are willing to spend a few bucks, look no further than energy efficient appliances. While appliances are certainly on the costly end of a holiday budget, the right refrigerator, dishwasher, or even an energy efficient tablet or television is sure to please almost anyone on your list. Look for products labeled with the ENERGY STAR logo, those independently certified to deliver both high performance and energy savings. And don’t forget to check with your utility company to see if it offers rebates for any efficient items you buy.
- Recycling Rebates: If you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of those nice, efficient appliances (perhaps your loved ones also read this blog!), you still have to figure out what to do with your old one. You should always consider donating it and extending the season of giving by helping those in need. But if you are planning on just ditching it, as most people do, check with your utility company first. I recently discovered that my utility offers a refrigerator recycling program. They will pick up my old fridge for free and also give me a fifty-dollar rebate on my next energy bill. Before you discard any major appliance, take the time to see if your local utility has any comparable offerings.
- The Gift of Light: Looking for a gift that keeps on giving? Consider giving LED lightbulbs to your loved ones. You might not have the coolest gifts at the party, but your gifts will be among the most beneficial. By giving brighter lights that generate energy savings throughout their 20-year life, your present will bring joy year after year. If you are struggling for a last minute gift idea, LED bulbs are a great option because everyone has to light their home. Before you buy, remember to check out our guide to LED bulbs from earlier this year.