Brighten Up the Holidays With Cool Energy Savings!

Bright decorations, great food and good company make the winter holidays festive and special. Keeping your energy costs under control with just a little bit of effort can bring youholiday-tree-with-leds-with-logo even more holiday cheer.

ENERGY STAR® rated LED light strings offer a wide variety of lighting options while using 70 percent less electricity than the old incandescent light bulbs. New bulbs are brighter, safer and last 10 times longer than the old lights. Plus they come in many different colors, including different shades of white. Check out our short video on holiday LED lights or visit our website for more holiday LED light info, as well as other tips on how to save energy all year long.

There are also some good tips on energy efficiency from the California Energy Commission (CEC) Consumer Energy Center, including how you can cut back energy waste in the kitchen during the hectic holidays. For instance:

  • Opening the oven door for a peek at what’s cooking lowers the oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook several items at the same time, leaving space around each casserole or pie plate to allow heat to be distributed evenly.
  • Use convection settings if available to distribute heat evenly and shorten cooking times.
  • Match the size of your stovetop burner to the size of the pan you’re using. Up to 40 percent of the heat is wasted if you put a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner.
  • Consider other ways to cook some holiday dishes, such as the microwave oven, a slow cooker or an electric skillet, all of which can be more energy-efficient than your oven or stovetop for cooking certain foods.
  • Opening the refrigerator door and leaving it open for a minute while you remove several items is more energy efficient than opening and closing it several times.

These useful tips can help you light up your house and deck the halls for your holiday festivities while saving you money on your electric bill.

Enjoy the Fire – But Don’t Let Your Fireplace Boost Your Energy Bill

A nice fire in the fireplace can help create the perfect atmosphere in a room on a cold flue_openwinter night during the holidays. While most of us enjoy such a scene, it’s important to note that your fireplace can be costing you money when it’s not in use. If you don’t keep the flue damper closed heat can disappear up the chimney. The damper is located inside the chimney flue and must be open when you have a fire and should be closed when there is no fire, usually using a handle, lever or chain attached to the damper. ­

There are some helpful tips on our website about keeping the heat in your home and saving money on your utility bill by closing the damper when the fireplace is not in use. Those tips include:

  • Wear dishwashing gloves while checking the flue and damper to help keep your hands clean.
  • If your flue damper has a loop, you can hang a small sign, piece of ribbon or even the fireplace poker from it to remind you when the flue is closed.
  • If you don’t have a damper or the one you have doesn’t fit properly, there are inflatable flue plugs available online to close off the flue.
  • An open flue not only sends your heat up the chimney in winter but will also vent cool air from your home during the summer.

It’s important to note that there’s more to that roaring blaze than meets the eye. While it chimney_illustration_v2-01gives off heat immediately in front of the fireplace, the heat going up the chimney is actually causing cool air to be drawn into your home through cracks and leaks normally found around windows, doors and wall penetrations for plumbing and electric outlets. That cold air then needs to be warmed by your home’s heating system.

Want to learn more about getting the most out of your fireplace for a warm, cozy and energy-efficient winter season? Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and search the term “chimney” for additional tips.

You’re So Cool! Or You Can Be With These Tips

It’s starting to warm up now that mid-summer’s here, and we all want to defeat the heat.Ceiling Fan If you have an air conditioner, you probably don’t want to crank it up all the time since you’ll pay for it when your electric bill comes. Or maybe you don’t have air conditioning and are looking for tips to stay cool. Here are some heat-beating tips that use little or no electricity.

  1. Buy a room fan for less than $15 and cool down people in a room using a very small amount of power.
  2. A bowl of ice placed in front of a fan so that the air blows across the ice can add cooling moisture to your room.
  3. Ceiling fans are effective, and we even offer a rebate for purchasing up to three ceiling fans. Be sure the ceiling fan is going in the right direction: run it counterclockwise in the summer so that air is forced downward. Most ceiling fans have a switch to change the direction of the blades.
  4. At night or in the early morning, open windows and even doors to bring the cool outside air into your home or apartment. Use a fan in the window to help draw the cool air in. Then close up your home when you leave for the day to trap that air inside.
  5. Close your blinds and/or curtains to block sunlight and outdoor warmth from your living areas. Solar heat gain heats up your living space.
  6. Use the microwave or outdoor barbeque to cook meals, or consider preparing cold meals like salads. A hot stove or oven increases the indoor temperature.
  7. Exhaust fans in bathrooms can vent warm air from your home, especially after a hot shower.
  8. Get rid of incandescent lights that generate a lot of heat and put in LED bulbs, which produce very little heat while using far less electricity.
  9. During the hottest parts of the day, spend time at the library, mall, or movie theater. These places are great cooling centers for the community.

To save energy and money, remember to turn off fans when no one is in a room. Fans directly cool people, not empty spaces!