For Immediate Release: December 10, 2009
Media Contact: Michele Demetras - 916-654-4989


Making the Most of Your Energy $$ During the Holidays

(SACRAMENTO) - Tight economic times don't have to put a damper on the holiday festivities if you're "energy aware" and can keep your energy budget under control.

Three of the biggest expenses for the home are lighting, heating, and cooking. Here are some tips and suggestions to consider this year.

Lighten Your Budget with LEDs

If you're decorating your house or tree, consider changing out those old, hot-burning bulbs with a new generation of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. They may be a bit more expensive to begin with, but they will last a lot longer than traditional lights and will save you hundreds of dollars over the years.

Here are some cost comparisons for outdoor lighting - traditional C-7 versus mini-lights with LED. The numbers are based on 600 lights burning six hours per day for 30 days.

  C-7 Incandescent Bulb Traditional Mini Light LED C-5 Style Light
Energy Used*
(in kilowatts - kW)
540 kW 68.85 kW 13.608 kW
Cost per kW
(U.S. average of
12-cents per kWh)
x 12 cents x 12 cents x 12 cents
Total Cost of Energy for
the Season
$64.80 $5.51 $1.09
*Energy used is based on 600 lights, 6 hours per day, for 30 days.

Even California's State Christmas Tree, in front of the Capitol, is decked out in LEDs. The 6,500 ultra-low-wattage LED lights illuminate the tree, saving 95 percent of the energy normally consumed by incandescent bulbs. Since 2006, the State Christmas Tree's LED lights have been powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which emits only pure water and allows the lights to operate without using electricity from the power grid.

Turn down the Thermostat, Turn up the Savings

Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to five percent on heating costs. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or turn it off altogether at night or when leaving home for an extended time. This can save 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back two degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).

Start the holiday season with a new furnace filter and clean or replace it monthly to keep your furnace running efficiently.

Setting your water heater to 120 degrees can cut your water heating costs by 10 percent.

Oven tips

Cook as many dishes as possible in your microwave oven during the holidays. Because microwaves cook food so quickly, the typical model uses as much as 75 percent less energy than a conventional oven.

Use your slow cooker. For about 20 cents worth of electricity, you can cook an entire meal.

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 degrees, which increases cooking time and wastes energy.

Turn off your oven several minutes before your food is fully cooked. As long as the door is closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal. The same principle applies to your electric range-top - the metal heating elements stay hot even after the electricity is turned off.

Glass and ceramic pans hold heat better and longer and you can turn the oven temperature down 25 degrees.

Stovetop tips

When cooking on top of your range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. Believe it or not, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the energy!

Clean burners and reflectors provide better heating, while saving energy. If you need new reflectors, buy quality ones. The best on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy used when cooking on top of the stove.

Refrigerator tips

In addition to your stove, your refrigerator and freezer also get a real workout over the holidays. While newer refrigerators are much more energy efficient than older ones, they remain one of the largest energy consumers in your house, often accounting for as much as 15 percent of your home's total energy usage.

Help your refrigerator and freezer operate efficiently and economically by keeping the doors closed as much as possible so the cold air doesn't escape. However, leaving the door open for a longer period of time while you take out the items you need is more efficient than opening and closing it several times.

It's easy to keep your refrigerator and freezer full during the holidays. It's also energy efficient, because the mass of cold items inside will help your refrigerator recover each time the door is opened. Don't cram it too full, because cool air must be able to circulate properly around your food.

Dishwasher tips

One simple, fun, and cost-effective way to save energy at holiday time is to gather everyone together in the kitchen and wash and dry your dishes by hand. But don't keep a steady stream of hot water flowing, or you'll waste more energy than you save.

According to research, a load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand. However, if you fill the wash and rinse basins instead of letting the water run, you'll use half as much water as a dishwasher. If you opt to use the dishwasher, wash full loads only. If you must rinse your dishes before loading them, use only cold water so you're not running up your energy bill by heating water unnecessarily. Don't forget to use the energy-saving cycles whenever possible. Dishwashers that feature air power or overnight dry settings can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.

When it comes time to purchase new appliances, keep energy consumption in mind and buy the more efficient Energy Star® models. Saving energy is a habit you should practice all year long - but the holidays can be the perfect time to start. Throughout the holiday season and into the new year, you'll watch your energy bills drop even as you use less of our precious energy resources - just one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season.

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