posted by Chris Valentine

By and large we are an incredibly wasteful society. This is not news to us. When confronted with statistics on exactly how wasteful we are, we shake our heads and mutter what a shame it is, but by and large this isn’t something we concern ourselves with during our normal day to day. Lucky for us this cycle can be broken by taking simple eco-friendly steps during that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you are interested in small, reasonable steps that you can take to save energy and the environment each year, then read on.


When LED lights are used to decorate your home for the holidays, you use 90% less energy than you do with traditional Christmas lights. In addition to lasting around 200,000, which is longer than they will be hung for. Hopefully. LED also produce substantially less heat than the traditional string lights and are therefore safer to leave unattended or use as part of displays containing potential flammable materials. According to one U.S. Department of Energy study, if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LEDs, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month. Making the switch to LED light strings means you can still win the neighborhood decorating contest without having as much of a harmful impact on the environment.


If you want to save money on more of your lights than just the ones on your tree, you should know that many utility companies offer free energy audits. Free. As in it costs no money. An energy audit assesses how much energy your entire home is currently using and provides you with an in-depth analysis of what measures you take to save yourself money while creating a more energy efficient living space, such as replacing old windows for new double paned glass, or having your heating ducts cleaned. Both of these improvements together cause your appliances to run more efficiently and will minimize your snowy, carbon footprint.


One fantastic, family-oriented, and super fun way to minimize the atrocious environmental effects of the holiday season is to utilize your fireplace, should you be lucky enough to have one. This is, of course, and very efficient and totally free way to heat at least a portion of your home. Take advantage of having everyone in the same area and tell stories, sing carols, and roast marshmallows. Or chestnuts, whatever those are.


With all of the holiday parties, meals, visits, and travelling, the dishwasher and the washing machine can seem like they are providing permanent background noise to your busy home. In order to get the most of your appliances and save yourself a guilty conscience, make sure that both of these are completely full before you run them. The average dishwasher only uses around 6 gallons of water per cycle, but running it twice as often because it’s only partially full completely defeats its water saving purpose!


To round out your eco-friendly holiday season, consider investing in power strips and timers. I know that you have worked hard on your decorations and they look beautiful, but nobody is around to see them at 2:30 in the morning. By plugging your lights and decorations that use power into power strips and adding a timer, you can ensure that your lights go off at altogether at the same time each night, and come back on at the same time the following evening. Not only does this ease the extra burden we are placing on our environment this time of year but it also saves you the trouble of running around the house trying to plug everything in every day.

Implementing these small changes around your home during the holiday season won’t stop global warming in its tracks, nor will it make your holiday related financial woes disappear completely. By following these basic guidelines, however, you can save yourself several hundred dollars during this time of year and give a helping hand to the environment as well. It’s a win-win.

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