This guest post was written by Virginia Energy Sense. This is not a compensated post, but shared as a PSA. Let’s have a cozy and energy-efficient holiday season!
Whether it’s wrapping presents, baking cookies or donating to local charities, there are a handful of traditions we follow each holiday season. Many Virginians also find themselves in an unintended holiday tradition of paying higher energy bills. Between holiday lighting displays, hosting festive gatherings and staying warm in the cold weather, Americans use the largest amount of energy in December and January.
But there is good news for festive Virginians: Spreading holiday cheer doesn’t have to come with a hefty energy bill. There are many ways you can celebrate and keep cozy this winter while saving energy in the process. The Commonwealth’s Virginia Energy Sense program, a statewide energy education initiative under the guidance of the State Corporation Commission, was created to help Virginians make their homes, businesses and schools more energy efficient all year long.
This is the perfect time of year to start saving energy and money for your family, and we’ve put together a handful of tips to help.
Use energy efficient holiday lights to see big savings at the end of the month. Running a string of traditional incandescent holiday bulbs for 12 hours per day for 40 days can cost more than $25. But the cost of running a string of LED lights for the same amount of time is 56 cents!
As much as 15% of the energy in the average American home is used in the kitchen. When using the oven to cook a big family meal, open the oven door as infrequently as possible. Every time the oven door is opened the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees. You can use the oven window to check on your dish without forcing the oven to work harder and use more energy. For smaller gatherings, consider using the toaster oven, electric skillet, slow cooker or microwave, which all use much less energy than your conventional oven.
Beat the Winter Chills
Energy is often wasted heating and cooling empty homes. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to give the heating system a rest whether you’re out visiting grandma or finding that perfect present, which can save up to $180 per year. Remember that as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling.
Cold weather has its way of infiltrating homes through even the smallest of gaps and cracks, especially around doors and windows. As part of your holiday party preparations, consider caulking, weatherstripping and air sealing to reduce drafts. It will make you and your guests more comfortable and cut energy bills by as much as 30 percent.
Warm air travels up, meaning that your attic is a prime place to add insulation that will improve the comfort of your home. Insulation is measured in R-values—the higher the R-value, the more insulated and efficient your home will be. Visit the insulation homepage on energy.gov for more detailed information about how to ensure your home is properly insulated.
What’s In Your Home’s Stocking?
–>One of the best ways to diagnose your home’s biggest energy problems is with an energy audit. Consider hiring a professional that can evaluate your home and provide custom solutions to realize big energy savings. Get started cost-free with Virginia Energy Sense’s free online Home Energy Test.
Consuming less energy this holiday season just makes sense: it will help curb your energy costs, boost your holiday cheer and support your state. In Virginia, we’ve made a commitment to help our economy and natural resources by setting a goal to reduce the Commonwealth’s electric energy use by 10 percent by 2022. It’s a goal we can reach with the support of residents, families and businesses across Virginia.
There are numerous opportunities for you to cut energy waste and save money, many that are low-cost and simple to do yourself. For a complete list of tips for every season, visit virginiaenergysense.org. The website includes a guide for Do-it-Yourself projects, a listing of available rebates and incentives to help offset the costs of energy improvements and equipment, and kids’ activities to get the whole family involved in becoming smarter energy users. Whether you’re an energy novice or DIY warrior, there are steps you can take to live more efficiently.
Thank you for your support in becoming more mindful of our energy use. Have a safe, happy and energy efficient holiday season.
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