Don’t let high bills dim your holiday spirit
The nights have grown longer, dustings of snow are blanketing higher elevations and festive music now permeates retail shops and restaurants alike. The holiday season is officially here.
But the most wonderful time of the year can bring financial stress. From gifts to traveling to groceries, the holidays are often the most expensive time of year. And, like cinnamon rolls in the oven, your electric bills can also rise — quickly.
In this article, we’ll discuss different ways to manage your monthly expenses so you can save that hard-earned cash for the things that truly matter this season.
The ‘Seasonal Spike’
Energy use tends to increase during the season of baking, holiday movie marathons and cooler temperatures. You may have family or friends visiting. You might spend all day cooking traditional meals. You’re decorating, hanging festive lights. All of these activities can lead to a ‘seasonal spike,’ meaning a temporary surge in your household electricity consumption. This can lead to higher utility bills from November through January.
So, how can you lower your electric bill during the holidays? The first step is to become more energy efficient through your behaviors and lifestyle. Then, adding a home solar system can offset all or a portion of your electricity bill by allowing you to create clean energy right from your roof.
If you already have rooftop solar panels installed, congratulations. You may still see a (mild) seasonal spike in your energy costs, but it won’t be drastic enough to hinder your holiday cheer.
Energy-Saving Tips for the Holidays
Both homeowners and houseguests use appliances more often during the holidays, from doing extra loads of laundry to running the dishwater more frequently.
Here are a few ways you can improve your energy efficiency this season without sacrificing comfort and joy.
In the Kitchen
During gatherings, try using your toaster oven or your microwave for smaller cooking tasks. Save your oven for your biggest cooking tasks, and maximize your oven’s energy by baking or cooking several dishes at once. Keep in mind that it takes the same amount of energy to heat an entirely full oven as it does a nearly empty one.
In the Laundry Room
You can also apply this energy-saving technique to your washer and dryer. It takes the same amount of energy to run a partial load of laundry as it takes to run a full load, so consider doing laundry only once or twice a week.1 Be sure to fill your loads to capacity and select low heat for drying — this will help improve your energy conservation.
In Bedrooms and Common Areas
Get into the habit of turning off lights in unoccupied rooms and setting thermostats to moderate temperatures overnight. Not only will this help you save on your holiday energy bill, but it will also help you reduce electricity costs during the rest of the year.
Add Some Joy to Your Holiday Lighting
It’s no secret that switching to LEDs can drastically boost your energy conservation. LED holiday lights use roughly 75 percent less energy, and can last 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs.* LEDs don't require a ton of maintenance and they never burn out (they’ll just get dimmer over time). So, before you start decorating, consider investing in LED lights.
Solar holiday lights are another option if you get a lot of winter sunshine. The small solar panels they use aren’t nearly as powerful as rooftop solar panels, so these lights can dim quickly and may not turn on if your days are particularly overcast. But without the need for extension cords and electricity from the grid, solar holiday lights can add inexpensive glimmer to your décor.
Shift High-Energy Tasks to Daytime
If you already have a home solar system, unless you have battery backup, your electricity is coming from the power grid after the sun goes down. One way to minimize your holiday energy bill is to shift as much of your electricity consumption as you can to the daytime, during peak sun hours. That includes charging your laptops and mobile devices, doing the laundry, and preparing meals before evening.
Avoid Drawing From the Grid During On-Peak Hours
Many people live in areas where utility providers charge more for electricity during on-peak hours. These time of use (TOU) rates often occur in the evenings (from 4-9 pm in California) when the energy demand is higher and the grid can become strained. If you live in an area with time-based rates, try to avoid drawing electricity from the grid when it’s the most expensive.
Add a Battery for More Energy Freedom
Since solar production tapers off as the sun begins to set, the best way to consume the clean energy you produce is to add battery storage. With the ability to store your solar generation for later — at night, during on-peak hours and when it’s storming — battery storage lets you have power when you need it most.
Stay off the Naughty List
This holiday season, enjoy the gift of cleaner air and a brighter future. Improving your home’s energy efficiency and investing in renewable energy solutions can reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and save money, too.
By reducing your carbon impact, you can stay off the naughty list this year — and for years to come.