‘Tis the season for family, fellowship and lots of cooking.

By Katie Kothman-Haby, CCC

No matter what or how you celebrate, energy use tends to increase over the holiday season. With more guests in your home and activities taking place, your electric meter spins a little faster than usual, costing you more money. Start the New Year off right. Celebrate the holidays efficiently so you don’t have to worry about a high electric bill.

Decorating

  • If you choose to decorate with strings of lights, consider LED (light emitting diode) options. They use over 80 percent less energy than traditional strings of lights and have a longer life. Make sure to purchase high quality strings from reputable sources. Safety and the lifetime can be compromised in less expensive LED strands.
  • Solar powered lighting options are also worth considering for decorations. Instead of having a plug handy, make sure you have a proper location for the solar panel that powers them.
  • Place strands of electric lights on timers so they automatically turn on in the evening after the sun sets, and turn them off around bed time. You won’t have to spend time thinking about plugging and unplugging them, and you won’t have to spend money powering them when unnecessary.
  • Decorate with less lighting. Consider a natural, vintage feel for your decorations. Use items like pinecones, greenery, candy canes, popcorn strings and gingerbread. The whole family can get involved with decorating the home with these safe and festive items.

2014_12_SW_Holiday-efficiency-tip-with-logoCooking

  • Cook with your microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker whenever possible. Small appliances cook quickly and more efficiently than your oven.
  • When you do use the oven, cook more than one item at a time. Have a ham, sweet potato casserole and rolls that all need to cook in the oven? Make some adjustments to cooking temperatures and times, and put all your dishes in at once to take full advantage of the heat that’s being produced.
  • Don’t peek! It’s tempting to open the oven door to check on holiday treats. Use the oven light instead, and keep the door closed. This will keep the heat where it belongs – inside the oven.
  • Glass and ceramic dishes allow you to cook food at a lower temperature than metal baking dishes. If the recipe calls for a metal baking pan and you substitute glass or ceramic cookware, reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have food defrosted before you cook. Simply planning ahead can cut cooking times and energy use in half. Place any frozen dishes in the refrigerator the night before so they are ready to go in the oven the next morning.

Around the house

  • Turn down your thermostat a few degrees. Extra people bustling around the home and the oven warming food will heat up your home a few extra degrees. Take advantage and adjust your thermostat accordingly. You will save some money on your bill, and your guests will still be comfortable.

Katie Kothmann Haby writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nations 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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