Holiday energy savings

  • Published
  • By Sundae Knight
  • Energy Programs Specialist
As the holiday season is upon us with the hustle and bustle of party planning, writing out cards to loved ones back home, and dashing to the stores for gifts, it's easy to forget the simple things like turning off lights and appliances and turning down thermostats before jetting out the door.  Please remember to take a few minutes to reduce energy consumption and increase holiday savings.  Yokota AB is billed a higher electrical rate during the day from 8AM to 10PM; the nighttime rate costs nearly 22% less than the daytime in winter (and in summer the nighttime rates are more than 30% less than the daytime peak rates).  You can do your part to reduce the electricity bill for the base by switching major appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, ovens, etc.) on after 10 p.m. to avoid the electricity peak rates. This process is called Electrical Peak Load Shifting and when everyone does their part, the savings are significant. If the average family on base sets out 5 strands of lights for the holiday season, the savings for switching from incandescents to LED lights with a timer set to off peak hours could theoretically save over $25,000 basewide.  If no one acts now to save energy, we save nothing.  The following ten holiday energy savings tips will help you save energy this holiday season and increase the energy security for Yokota.

Holiday Lighting Efficiency

1. Buy LED Holiday Lights:  Replace old strings of incandescent lights with LED holiday lights. Because LED lights use such little power in comparison to energy-guzzling incandescent, they are by far the more eco-friendly choice (an average LED light string consumes less than 25% of the power of an incandescent string).  Incandescent bulbs burn much hotter compared to LED bulbs, so one of the biggest problems with incandescent holiday lights is the danger of Christmas tree fires...particularly a Christmas tree that's begun to dry out.   With LED bulbs you can rest assured that your family is safe for years to come, since LED lights put off nearly no heat and last thousands of hours longer than incandescent lights.  You can't put a price on your family's safety, but a few extra dollars for the LED lights will actually pay for itself in reduced electricity bills in as little as 4 seasons.

2.  Put Holiday Lights on a Timer:  Few holiday-goers are out and about after midnight, so lights left on after midnight won't be enjoyed by anyone. Be sure to use a durable holiday light timer that is made to withstand the elements.  Install it in a place that is easy to access so you can make changes as the days get even shorter.

3. Get Creative:  Light up the town without the lights.  Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your shining resources.  You could even mirror your next door neighbors' over-bright display with a string of silver bells on your railing.  Don't forget the ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs for electricity- free, age-old traditions that still bring holiday cheer.

4. Turn Off Room Lights When the Tree is Lit:  The lights on your Christmas tree should provide more than enough lighting to navigate around the room.

Holiday Meals and Parties

The holidays are great times for gathering friends around a loaded table and sharing good food.  According to the Commissary, Yokota AB residents consume more than 5,500 Turkeys and Hams for the holidays.  It pays to be a night owl when cooking your turkey. By switching when you cook and clean up after your holiday feast, the theoretical savings could be as much as an additional $10,000 for the holiday season. 

5. Multi-Task Your Oven:  The holiday season is a big time for baking. Make the most of your oven and the energy that goes into heating it, by cooking several dishes at once. Remember, it takes the same amount of energy to heat a full oven as it does a nearly-empty one.

6. Use a Cooler:  If you have a holiday party this year, consider using a cooler for those drinks instead of continually opening and closing the refrigerator door.  Why make the refrigerator work harder to keep the rest of your food cool.

7. Use Lids and the Right Sized Pot:  Use lids to bring water and food to boil faster.  Also, up to 40% of energy can be wasted if the pot base is smaller than the cooking element. The base of the pot should just cover the electric cooking ring.

8. Alternate Heat:  Use crock pots or microwaves whenever possible instead of an oven, they use less than ½ the energy.

9. Use the Oven Window:  When using your oven, check cooking progress by looking through the window.  Opening the oven door for even a few seconds lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25°F.  If your stove doesn't have a window, try not to open the door to check your food until it's as close to the expected finish time as possible.  Turn off your oven several minutes before your food is fully cooked.  As long as the door remains closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal.

10.  Dishwashers Can Be Thrifty:  Use dishwashers to wash dishes, they save time and money as they reduce wasted water. But use dishwashers only when you have a full load and air dry the dishes instead of paying to heat your dishes