Merry and Bright—and Energy Efficient

 

 

Turn down the heat and turn up the revelry

 

More bodies mean more natural warmth, so turn down that thermostat when you have guests! Also, make sure you seal and insulate your home’s air ducts, as the process can improve your system’s heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

 

 

Wash clothes in cold water:

 

Family + parties + overnight guests = a whole lot of laundry. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Just make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures. 

 

 

Use low-watt or energy-efficient LED lights:

 

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of LED bulbs may be a bit more expensive than regular bulbs, you’ll end up saving energy and money in the long run.

 

 

No peeking!

 

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey or holiday ham and turn the oven light on for a glance instead. Opening the door for even a few seconds can lower oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees—increasing cooking time and wasting energy. 

 

 

Save water while cleaning up.

 

Washing dishes by hand can actually use more water than a dishwasher would. However, if you fill up wash-and-rinse basins instead of letting water run, you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher. If you do use the machine, make sure you wash only full loads, and pre-rinse plates with cold water, not hot.

 

Reduce, Recycle & Reuse This Holiday Season

There’s something in the air during the holiday season—something that encourages giving and selflessness…and unfortunately a whole lot of waste. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, American household waste goes up by about 1 million tons a week! Not to mention that twinkling lights, music and delicious meals—hallmarks of the festive season—can really rack up an energy bill. Here are a few ways you can reduce the waste, save energy and go green without becoming a Grinch over the holidays.

Use LED Christmas lights:

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of festive LED bulbs is going to be a little more expensive than a traditional garland of incandescent bulbs, you’ll end up saving overall during the season—ensuring that yours is the happiest and brightest house on the block.

Wash with cold water:

The holidays create a lot of laundry, from all that festive party-wear to the tablecloths you feast on and the extra linens for your overnight guests. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Turn that dial to cold, and make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures.

Turn down the heat:

…when you turn up the cheer! Your famous holiday parties are always well attended, of course, which means there are quite a few more bodies naturally warming up your home! So turn down the thermostat even if it ends up being a White Christmas. Although it’s snowing outside, you enjoy the savings of a greener holiday. Also, sealing and insulating your home’s air ducts can improve heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

No peeking!

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey roasting, that holiday ham sizzling, or that sweet-smelling pie baking before it’s ready. Opening the door even for a few seconds can lower oven temperatures by as much as 25 degrees—which increases cooking time and wastes energy. Save your energy for enjoying the feast! If you can’t resist the urge to see how the cooking is going, turn on the oven light for a few seconds for a view through the glass.

Wrap and rewrap.

Annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags in the U.S. amounts to 4 million tons of waste! When it comes to holiday gifts, it’s the thought that counts, right? Use leftover newspaper or magazine pages to wrap presents, or swaddle them in brightly colored seasonal fabrics that can also be part of the gift (make it extra special by pre-washing to add an irresistible scent!). And there’s no harm in reusing holiday ribbon either. If every family reused just two feet of ribbon over the holidays, that recycled ribbon would be long enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!

Drive less.

It’s tough to avoid driving altogether during the season, but you and your family can cut back on the mileage by carpooling to holiday gatherings, using public transportation or even taking a nice winter stroll if possible. If every family drove 20 fewer miles over the holidays (saving about 1 gallon of gasoline), greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by one million tons.

Recycle your Christmas tree.

It’s always hard to take down the tree after the holidays are over, but knowing that you are helping to save the planet in the process can lift your spirits. Thirty million of the 50 million Christmas trees that are purchased in the U.S. every year go to the landfill. Check with your town or city to see how you can recycle your tree. And instead of vacuuming up those fallen pine needles on your floor, collect them to add to a festive potpourri medley that will keep the smells of the season lingering in your home.

Holiday Cleanup and Storage

Nothing takes the “happy” out of “happy holidays” more quickly than a ton of post-party cleanup. Try these troubleshooting tips.

1. There is a graveyard of pine needles around your Christmas tree.
Inevitably, no matter how often you water it, your Christmas tree will start dropping its needles. Vacuums often leave stubborn needles behind so use a lint roller to pick up the rest. If you don’t have a lint roller on hand, try wrapping duct tape, sticky side up, around the bristle end of a broom. Then replace with new duct tape as needed.

2. Your tablecloth is covered in wax from a dripping menorah.
Here’s an easy trick to handle a waxy situation. Place one paper towel underneath the stained linen and then one on top. Then go over your linen sandwich with a warm (not hot!) iron. The paper towels will soak up the wax and you’ll be left with a clean tablecloth. Refer to this holiday stain guide for more detailed instructions.

3. Your Christmas lights always become a tangled mess after you take them down. 
This year, store your Christmas lights by wrapping them around hangers. Tape one end of the strand to the lower right or left hand corner of the hanger. Gently, yet tightly, wind the strand around the length of the hanger. Attach the tail end of the strand to the other end of the hanger with duct tape and your lights will unravel tangle-free next year.

4. There are mounds of wrapping paper all around your living room.
Try turning cleanup into a game this year. Set up trash-bag baskets and challenge your family to a shoot off. The person who scores the most baskets with balls of crumpled wrapping paper wins.

5. It looks like a bomb went off in your laundry room.
You’ll want to be extra organized before the holidays to avoid dealing with a chaotic laundry room. Put hampers in every bedroom and try designating baskets, bins or shelves in your laundry room to each family member. Then they can then help ease the load by picking up and folding their own clean items.

The Eleventh-Hour Elf

Too late to order online? No time for (another) trip to the mall? Here are 10 great giftables, all of which you can purchase at the grocery or drugstore—or make at home.

1. For the gourmand
Pick up a mix of these goodies, available at most grocers: top-quality olive oil, a canister of specialty salt from France, fine Italian coffee, a bar of artisanal chocolate, jam in a pretty jar, some imported sausage, olives, and biscotti. Place everything in a basket or a craft-paper brown bag with tissue. If you’re handing it over right away, add a baguette. Bon appetit!

2. For a tween girl
Hit the drugstore for nail polish, nail polish remover, an emery board, and stick-on “nail art.” Place in a colorful bag with tissue. Done!

3. For a college student
Simplify laundry day with detergent pods. Besides being easy to use, these multidimensional laundry detergents clean, fight stains, and brighten in one. No more pouring. No more lugging. No more spilling. And no more bringing home dirty laundry (dare to dream)!

4. For your hosts
Showing up for an evening party? Bring breakfast for the next day. Bake a coffee cake or muffins or—faster still—let your grocery-store baker do it for you. While at the grocery store, buy a pound of good coffee and/or fancy tea.

5. For Grandma
Pick up a picture frame or frame-style refrigerator magnet at the drugstore. When she arrives, take a picture of her and her grandchild or children. Print it out (copy paper is just fine) and pop it in the frame. An easy “Awwww”!

6. For Grandpa
Buy one of those wallet-style greeting cards commonly used for cash. Have your kids dream up things Grandpa would like: a hug, a lesson on how to use his smartphone, breakfast in bed, a chore performed without whining. Make one coupon for each IOU and stick it in the card. Voilà!

7. For the spiller
Instant stain remover sticks remove even tough grease stains while “on the go.” They combine a powerful cleaning solution that breaks stains down with a micro-fiber pad that lifts and absorbs them.

8. For a procrastinator
Pick up a pack of thank-you notes—or if you prefer, a stack of postcards—and a roll of stamps. Place a pen on top and wrap it all up with a ribbon. If you have the time, address the envelopes and stick on the stamps. No excuses for not getting cards in the mail before New Year’s Eve!

9. For a new driver
Pack up foul-weather items in a box to keep in the trunk, including windshield wiper fluid, an ice scraper, and a flashlight and extra batteries. If your local gas station sells automotive supplies, you might also find a de-icer spray and jumper cables.

10. For almost anyone
Bake cookies, place them on a festive paper plate, and wrap it all up in cellophane with a big bow. Include your recipe on the card. Yum!

Stay Merry and Bright—while being energy efficient this holiday season…

'Tis the season for twinkling lights, roast turkeys and champagne toasts! However, 'tis also the season for very high energy bills. No one wants to be a Grinch over the holidays, so here are some energy-saving tips that will still let you bring on the merry.

 

Use low-watt or energy-efficient LED lights:

 

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of LED bulbs may be a bit more expensive than regular bulbs, you’ll end up saving energy and money in the long run.

 

 

Wash clothes in cold water:

 

Family + parties + overnight guests = a whole lot of laundry. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Just make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures.

 

 

No peeking!

 

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey or holiday ham and turn the oven light on for a glance instead. Opening the door for even a few seconds can lower oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees—increasing cooking time and wasting energy.

 

Turn down the heat and turn up the revelry:

 

More bodies mean more natural warmth, so turn down that thermostat when you have guests! Also, make sure you seal and insulate your home’s air ducts, as the process can improve your system’s heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

 

 

Save water while cleaning up.

 

Washing dishes by hand can actually use more water than a dishwasher would. However, if you fill up wash-and-rinse basins instead of letting water run, you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher. If you do use the machine, make sure you wash only full loads, and pre-rinse plates with cold water, not hot.