Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat – here’s how to make sure your energy consumption stays trim!
We’re all guilty of overdoing it at Christmas, and we’re not just talking about mince pies and eggnog! Thanks to decorations, cooking and cosying up in the front of the TV, the average UK household spends up to £50 more on gas and electricity in December. This translates into a lot of extra strain on the planet’s resources, which is bad news for climate change. But you don’t need to forsake Christmas cosiness to limit your festive impact on the climate. These easy tips will keep your energy consumption low even if your willpower in the face of a tub of Quality Street isn’t!
- Switch to LED Christmas lights
There’s nothing quite like the warm, twinkly glow of lights on a Christmas tree to get you in the festive spirit. But this year, forget about the standard energy-hungry string of bulbs and opt for LED lights instead. They use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and are pretty durable, lasting up to ten times longer than standard fairy lights. They emit virtually no heat, too, so little hands reaching for chocolate decorations are perfectly safe!
- Put lights on a timer
It’s tempting to leave festive lights on all day, but it won’t do your electricity bill – or the planet – any favours. According to UK Power, the average UK household keeps their Christmas tree lights on for more than five hours a day, while those with outside displays keep them illuminated for around six hours a day – that’s uses the equivalent of an additional 22.8 days electricity over the Christmas period! Invest in a timer and set your lights to come on for a few hours at night – they won’t have much impact during the day anyway.
- Cook smart
What is the festive season if not a time to stuff our faces with all manner of tempting treats? And let’s not forget the main event, of course: Christmas dinner! The oven will be a hotbed of activity on Christmas Day, but you can minimise energy waste by following a few simple rules:
- Batch dishes together so they cook at the same time
- Use lids on pots and pans – this helps water boil faster and therefore uses less energy
- Resist the temptation to constantly check on the turkey and only open the oven door if you really have to – every time you do the oven loses heat and has to work hard to get back to the original temperature
- Turn down the heat
With everyone at home during the day over the festive season you’ll probably have the heating on more often, but try turning down the thermostat to around 19°C. With so many bodies buzzing about you won’t need so much help from the boiler, and turning it down just one degree will make a big dent in your energy consumption.
- Plan for petrol
It’s easy to forget about the energy your car uses, but during the festive period that could be higher than ever thanks to shopping expeditions and trips to train stations racking up the miles, plus heavy boot-loads of shopping and luggage taking its toll on efficiency. Plan ahead to make group journeys together, and make sure you take your shopping out of the boot as soon as you get home – you’ll have to find somewhere else to hide the presents! Better still, leave the car in the drive and use public transport instead.
- Close the curtains
Closing your curtains at dusk helps keep heat in and draughts out. In fact, researchers at Edinburgh University say it could be as effective as fitting double glazing! Besides, there’s no reason to keep them open now it gets dark so early.
- Check your TV settings
You’ll probably spend a lot of time gathered around the telly this Christmas, so make sure you’re not wasting energy unnecessarily as you enjoy the festive entertainment:
- Make sure the brightness levels are right for your room – factory settings are usually higher than needed
- Switch on the ambient light sensor if your TV has one – this means it will automatically adjust brightness and contrast settings depending on the lighting in the room (you don’t need it on max brightness if you’re sat in the dark!)
- Enable your TV’s energy-saving mode if it has one – this could reduce its power consumption by more than a third
- Invest in rechargeable batteries
Christmas morning is synonymous with cries of ‘Where are the batteries?’ But instead of buying cheap disposables, invest in a charger and a pack of rechargeables. Charging batteries when you need them is more cost-effective than buying new ones, and it’s much better for the environment.
- Banish vampire energy before you go away
Off on holiday or to see the relatives? Make sure you do a quick ‘socket sweep’ before you leave and turn off anything that’s going to suck up standby energy unnecessarily: TVs, stereos, computers and so on.
- Cuddle up
Christmas is a time for friends and family, so turn off the TV, put down the games controller and get cosy on the sofa, just enjoying each other’s company. Remember, you only have to do it once a year!
The bottom line
It’s a given that you’ll use more energy around Christmas time, but by taking a few simple steps to ensure you’re not spilling into silly amounts of surplus, you can be sure you’re keeping your carbon footprint to a minimum and the climate isn’t being put under any additional festive stress.
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