As we head into the darkest days of the year, it’s customary to turn up the lights. As part of American tradition, we string holiday lights on our houses, let our Christmas trees glow, turn up the thermostats, and drive to the store to purchase gifts for our friends and family. We don’t realize it, but during the holidays, we use more energy than on average, wasting money, and contributing to pollution in the environment.

So, here’s how to give the best gift of all this year – the gift of a healthier planet. Cut yourself a break by being energy-smart, you already have enough money flying out of your wallet this holiday season.

"the gift of a healthier planet"

1. Switch to Light Emitting Diode (LED) Christmas lights

Let’s say you are decorating your house with “100-count string of incandescent mini lights,” that is about “40 watts, while a 70 count of 5mm wide angle LEDS is [using only] 4.8 watts total. ”
LED lights are clearly the way to go. They can save you up to 90 percent in energy savings because they use up to 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. What’s more important is that they last longer – up 50,000 hours longer, to be exact.

LEDs are also more environmentally friendly than traditional bulbs such as fluorescent lights because they don’t have mercury in them. Special precautions are not necessary for the disposal of LED bulbs, because there’s nothing dangerous in them that can poison the surrounding environment.

2. Use fiber optics

That’s right – fiber optics. What are fiber optic lights? Well, you’ll find them at county fairs and amusement parks! But you can also use them for Christmas lights! Fiber optic lights give off the impression that multiple lights are being used, when it is only using one source of lighting. Typically, fiber optics only use one light bulb for each unit of fibers, so you get hundreds of little lights from just one source! They’re essential for lighting your holidays cost-effectively while conserving energy.

There are tons of fiber optic options out there for holiday decorating. You can get fiber optic wreaths, garland, and even Christmas trees, just from a simple Amazon search.

3. Use a light timer

Why keep the lights on when there’s no one around to appreciate them? When you’re away at work, or when you go to sleep for the night, make sure the lights turn off. You can do this methodologically with a light timer. This ensures that the lights come on when you get home and they turn off when you don’t need them anymore, around bedtime.

4. When the tree is lit, turn off the other lights

If you have a Christmas tree that’s lit up, you really don’t need to keep other lights on in the living room. Turn off all the other lights, and you’ll quickly realize that the soft lighting of the Christmas tree is more beautiful, and still effective enough to find your way around the living room with ease.

5. Decorate with candles

It’s a long-held tradition to light more candles around the holidays, but we’ve gotten away from this practice with modern lighting. Candles are a lovely way to light the darkest evenings of the year, and they add a soft glow to your décor. Save energy and money on the electricity bill by lighting candles around the house, instead of having to plug in electric lights.

6. Use battery-operated lights

A fire-safe alternative to using candles is to use battery-operated lighting. While not quite as environmentally friendly (due to the production and waste-element of batteries), they’re still a good option if you want to save energy this year. Use battery-operated candles in the windows to light the house, or even use battery-operated string-lights for indoor use.

7. Buy Energy Star electronics for gifts this year (and during appliance sales)

Looking to purchase a new refrigerator for Black Friday this year? Be sure to look out for the Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances pass the rigorous standards of the U.S. Department of Energy that ensures that businesses save money and protect the environment through more efficient energy usage.

8. Practice energy-efficient cooking

Chances are, you’ll be in your kitchen a lot this holiday season. Between the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas feast, you’ll be in and out of the kitchen, baking cookies, and your grandmother’s famous Vegetable Medley recipe.

Be smart about energy usage by baking multiple dishes at once in the oven, and by not pre-heating the oven. Use the microwave for heating dishes that don’t require the oven. Don’t be afraid of the crock pot, either! Using a crockpot is far more energy efficient than using an oven for the same purpose.

9. Turn down the thermostat when guests arrive

More bodies in the house mean more warmth, which means you can save money and energy by turning the dial down on that thermostat.

And remember, there are always things you can do to save energy all year long. Whether it’s merely the decision to buy less, the decision to take shorter showers, or to turn the lights off after you leave a room, these seemingly small actions have huge benefits and go a long way in conserving energy in the long run.

"Alcen Team wishes everyone Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!"

Here at Alcen, we strive to always spread the word about how America can be energy-efficient. We are on a mission to make every light switch lead to a clean energy source. If you have land, you can join the movement by learning about how to host a wind or solar farm on your land. And if you want to help the clean energy movement in other ways, come explore our Investor page! We always need people like you to help make the future cleaner than today. Spread the word!