9 energy saving holiday tips that keep on giving

By: Matt Grocoff , Contributing Writer
In: Green Renovations, Technology

This Christmas give a gift to yourself . . . not the utility company.

The holidays are that time of year when energy and water bills go through the roof nearly knocking the hot cocoa dispenser off Santa's sleigh. Maybe the energy spike is due to creepy uncle Lou who's been watching the complete "Dance Moms" marathon on Lifetime. Maybe it's cousin Miley who keeps getting her spiked shoulder pads stuck in the light sockets.

Whatever the cause of your wasted energy dollars, I've got some tips for keeping the family cozy and happy during this holiday season.

1. Light up your life: LED Christmas Lights

LED Christmas lights last for years longer than old school lights and they are an outrageous 90% more efficient. No brainer.

2. Save energy in your sleep: timers for lights and the Christmas tree

Christmas lights and the little train that goes around the tree are just lovely. But, if you turn them off when you're sleeping, the only one who'll miss them is your drunk neighbor who accidentally comes home to your house to make a sandwich at 2 a.m. Get yourself a digital plug in timer or sensor that will automatically turn off your energy consuming decorations.

3. Let someone else do the dishes: wash dishes in dishwasher rather than by hand and run full load

Believe it or not, washing the dishes in the dishwasher can use less water and energy than doing them by hand. And each time you run the dishwasher it uses energy. So, it's smart to run a full load each time. Avoid doing half empty loads if possible.

4. Eat local: buy a locally raised ham. (And look for the Country of Origin, or COOL, label.)

Food is a giant part of your carbon footprint. Eating vegetarian can dramatically reduce your contribution to global warming. When you do eat meat, always choose local. Locally raised meats from family farms taste better, helps your local farmers, and uses far, far less energy than a traditional factory farm. What better way to celebrate a season of peace and joy?

5. Cook in a convection oven

Convection ovens have been coveted by professional chefs for years. They are finally available for home use and are affordable. The good news is that they use less energy and have far better cooking performance than a conventional oven. Some microwaves even have convection ovens built in. Check out my biscuit recipe for a delicious, microwaveable treat.

6. Cook with magnets: get an induction cooktop

Induction cooktops are the rage in all the high-end magazines. But they have been available for years in Europe and are the most popular type of stove. For you skeptics that think there's no better way to cook than gas . . . Think again. Induction cookers have far greater control than gas, give a more even heat, deliver twice the BTU (heat) of a commercial gas stove, and they can be turned down so low that you can melt chocolate and throw away your double boiler.

Induction can be up to 50% more energy efficient than gas. For smart chefs, there is no longer any other choice but induction.

7. Take a hot shower (together): upgrade shower heads and water heater

If showering together doesn't actually reduce your shower time, then simply upgrade your shower head to a new high-performance shower head that uses only 1.5 gallons per minute. You'll save a a gallon per minute of hot water. Your house guests will thank you for it when they no longer run out of hot water.

8. Give the gift of comfort: get a smart thermostat.

Get yourself or a loved one of the newest smart thermostats like the Ecobee or the Nest.

9. Game-On: buy only Energy Star electronics.

TV sets that waste energy are no more fun to watch than ones with the Energy Star label. Many new flat screen TVs use less energy than your old clock radio.

Find more holiday energy saving tips from Energy Star here.

Also, if you give an ENERGY STAR gift this year, download our campaign gift label (499KB) to thank your friend or family member for making a difference for the environment.