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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frugally festive. . . .

As I walk or drive down my street, I'm noticing lots of holiday light displays, as well as people who already have their Christmas tree decorated and lit in the front window. I'm planning on being out of town this holiday season, at least for a few days, so I'm foregoing a big holiday light display, both inside and outside of my house. Of course, even as I admire some of the more restrained and classy light shows, I wonder how much extra the display is adding to my neighbors' energy bills.

I'm currently waiting for my own energy bill, hoping that it will be manageable. My gas bill was a bit higher than I expected (I raised the thermostat to 62 from 58; I also had a housesitter who I'm sure used the heater generously while I was away last month). Now I'm hoping that I can make up the difference with a lower electricity bill. Here are some ways to make that happen, in spite of the temptation to follow my neighbors' example and join in the decorating cheer.

  • Unplug anything that can be unplugged (with the exception of the refrigerator, of course) when away on vacation. This includes, the TV, the DVD player, computers, and the microwave, among other appliances.
  • Use the oven strategically. I baked rolls for a Thanksgiving dinner I attended, while at the same time baking a last batch of cookies. Doubling up on items that cook at the same temperature will save energy, regardless of whether your oven is gas or electric.
  • Along the same lines, use lids on your saucepans, to conserve heat where you want it: inside the saucepan. Saving time on heating water or soup also saves energy.
  • Have a holiday gathering at your own home: the more bodies in your living room, the lower the thermostat needs to be. Bonus is that you'll save on the gas that it would have taken to drive to someone else's house!
  • Utilize candles as part of your holiday decorations, rather than electric lights. When used safely, candles can add a beautiful glow to the mantle or table that an electric light simply can't.
  • Speaking of lights, purchase the new LED Christmas lights, which supposedly use 90% less energy!
  • Finally, wait until night has fallen to turn on your decorative lights, and turn them off at a reasonable hour. I have a coworker who says her neighbors keep their 'mobile', electric snowman on all night long. Why waste the energy?
Personally, I think I like the idea of using candles the best of all of these frugal ideas. I'm going to pull out my beautiful red and cream candles, maybe cut some boughs from the cedar trees in my backyard, and create a natural, budget decoration that will make my house smell and look good!


BJ said...

This is my first time visiting your blog and I have read through a ton of or posts. I never knew that there was so much to know about living frugal until reading your blog. I have subscribed to it and plan to read it on a regular basis. Great Blog!!

marci357 said...

Last Christmas it was all I could do to find room in my construction zone for the tree.

So this year, I wanted at least one large string of lights up also - but was not going overboard. I put the string of lights and the tree lights together on a timer - on at 5:30 am when the log trucks start rolling down my road to the mill - and off at 7:30 am when I go to work. And on in the evening for 3 hrs. I'm enjoying them myself.

I figure I can afford it as our electric company is giving a 10% discount this winter due to some Bonneville Power refunds they had coming.

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