Thanksgiving signals the official start of the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, many Americans decorate their homes, travel to visit family, host and attend parties and gatherings, and spend more time than usual cooking and baking in the kitchen. While all these special activities are a great way to shepherd in the holiday season, they can really add up on your monthly energy bill. Check out some ways you can help save all kinds of energy this holiday season.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 15 percent of the average American energy costs come from the kitchen, making it a prime place to save energy. When you know you’ll be in the kitchen all day, lower the thermostat a few degrees before you start cooking. The heat from the oven will keep the house warm, and you can use a ceiling fan to help spread the heat throughout the house, according to HouseLogic.
The Edison Electric Institute also says you can also improve efficiency by cooking foods at the same time, especially if the recipe calls for them to be cooked at temperatures within 25 degrees of each other. This will likely require adjusting cooking times and temperatures, but there are lots of online conversion tools that can help make those adjustments. Also, avoid the temptation to peek at your dishes before they’re done cooking. Every time you open the oven you release the heat that’s inside and force the oven to use more energy and work harder to heat back up to the proper temperature.
Other tips include using glass or ceramic pans to cook instead of metal, cooking in the microwave and with slow cookers when possible, and if your oven has it, using the convection feature. Finally, you can save energy when cleaning up from dinner by scraping extra food into the trash instead of rinsing your dishes. Also, using your dishwasher to clean dishes actually uses less water and takes less time than hand washing, so us that to your advantage.
Much like preparing to cook, when expecting company, turn down your thermostat a few degrees before your guests arrive. You may be chilly, but it’ll keep your home comfortable as the house fills up and will help avoid the air conditioning kicking on to cool things down.
Next, make it easy for guests to help you conserve energy. Place drinks in a cooler instead of directing guests to constantly open and close the refrigerator. If there are areas in your home that guests don’t need to be in, close the doors and turn off the lights. This can help deter guests from turning on unnecessary lights and electronics. If your family recycles, have containers available for guests to place empty cans, bottles and other recyclables.
Some easy ways to save energy while traveling this holiday season are to check your tire pressure and always drive the speed limit, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. Underinflated tires can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by up to 3 percent. Speed limits not only keep your family safe, but also keep your car operating at peak fuel efficiency. Generally, gas mileage decreases at faster speeds than 50 mph. Struggle with a lead foot? Use your cruise control to help keep your speed consistent.
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