Preventing Huge Holiday Electric Bills

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us. With Thanksgiving already in the shadows many people either have already or will soon set up their Christmas or other holiday decorations. Decorations are a great way to get into the season and spread cheer but they can also be a great way to increase electric bills. As Christmas trees and decorative lighting get plugged in electric bills go up. The exact amount the bills will increase depends on the lighting being used and how the lighting gets used. Being aware of this extra use can help prevent a budget busting bill in a season that is already known for breaking the budget. The question becomes how do energy efficiency aware professionals plan to manage their electricity this Christmas season?

In an attempt to keep electric bills low many users will substitute a lamp or a light for a Christmas tree. While the lighting may not be as bright the mood is definitely more seasonal. The question then becomes how does my Christmas tree compare to a regular lamp? How much extra am I using? The answer to that question, as you may know, varies on multiple items. Are the bulbs on your Christmas tree standard or LED, as energy professionals they should be LED, right? How many strands of lights does your tree have? Another item coming into play in terms of electricity bills are fireplaces. Acquiring firewood is not the only expense accompanied with a fireplace as we all know; an opened flue can equal the same amount of heat loss as an open window. Having a fire in the fireplace, with the Christmas tree lit up and Christmas music playing may create a great mood now, but what type of mood will it create when the bill arrives? It may leave you feeling more like Scrooge than Saint Nick. Regardless of how much knowledge concerning energy efficiency you have everyone occasionally forgets something, and the flue may become that item, especially after a little eggnog.

Changing your Christmas lights to LED, if you haven't already, making sure the flue is closed after each fire and only playing Christmas tunes when someone is around to listen, and not just as background music 24/7, may greatly reduce your electric bill. Another item to consider is Christmas light rationing. Some lights get left on 24/7, having them on a switch or in an area that can be turned off easily can make a huge difference. Becoming aware of how much energy your Christmas decorations are using with an energy monitor can supply the extra incentive to make sure the lights are turned off, the music is not always playing and the flue gets shut. The holidays come around only once a year and as a result they often get forgotten when it comes to thinking of home performance. As home energy professionals make sure you are using as little energy as possible this holiday season.

Silas Inman
Forward Energy Solutions, Inc.
Sustaining Tomorrow with Energy Solutions Today

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Comment by Dennis McCarthy on December 9, 2010 at 2:48pm
Silas - You're !00% right about the use of Leds - but the mentality should be why use
incandescent lighting at all - whether holiday lights or general lighting. The fact is for
almost all of us kWhs used go up this time of year, due to furnace blower use, lighting needs, more laundry- So its about logical. practical use patterns, using less energy
is imho less about platitudes and desires, and really all about science - thermal dynamics. A person educated about their waste trends is a person more likely to make
changes ie air sealing there place , fixing leaky ductwork or switching to solid state lights
Comment by Steve Waclo on December 8, 2010 at 7:02pm
I volunteered to string some LED lights at the skating rink in downtown Carson City a few days back and when I drove by late that evening to show the wife I'm not completely useless, was surprised to find the lamps off :-(. Turned out there was concern about energy costs and since, the packaging had been discarded I had to call the Big Box where they had been purchased to get wattage numbers for some number crunching. When the rep gave me the figure for a 50' string, I had to ask him to repeat the information: 6 watts!! Suspicious, I made the poor guy check twice more, and the answer was the same. Memory fails, but I believe everything we installed at the rink came to 20 cents a day (!!). What was especially humerous were the "double ought", industrial strength extension cords that had been purchased to feed from the power source. Gotta be the easiest duty those cords will ever face ;-)
Comment by A. Tamasin Sterner on December 7, 2010 at 3:43pm

Check this out! I call it Holiday Hell!
Comment by Evan Mills on December 2, 2010 at 9:46pm
Good things to focus on at this time of year!

I would say that a fireplace is even worse than an open window (of the same size), given the very strong flame-powered stack effect.


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