Challenge yourself to use energy more efficiently this year 

For many, the winter holiday season is a time of year we produce too much waste. We overeat, overcook, and overprepare. Many of us end up throwing away lots of food, decorations, and packaging. But, all these things are things we see; what about all the waste we cannot see?

Wasting less energy is another valuable goal for those interested in consuming less, especially during the holiday season. While water use tends not to change over the holiday season, energy use certainly does according to Lisa Rosintoski, Customer Connections Manager for Utilities with the City of Fort Collins.

Water Use

Even if your household’s water use doesn’t increase during the holiday season, you’re still invested in using as little as you’re able. Here are some tips Rosintoski shared:

  • Dishwashers are more efficient than washing dishes by hand. Run only full loads.
  • Instead of using running water to thaw meat or other frozen items, put the item in the fridge ahead of time to defrost.
  • Check for and fix leaky or running toilets by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Don't flush and wait for 15 minutes. If coloring is in the bowl, there is a leak.
  • Don't flush anything except toilet paper.
  • Know where your main water valve is and how to shut it off in case of an emergency.

Electricity Use

It doesn’t surprise most that electricity use is higher in winter due to shorter days and colder temperatures. However, Rosintoski says some households see higher electricity use we can attribute to holiday happenings such as having visitors and spending extra time at home cooking, entertaining, and memory making.

There are many easy things you can do this year to rethink your use of energy and resources:

  • Turn the thermostat down when you have guests. Extra bodies naturally create extra heat.
  • If you’re able, set your thermostat to a schedule so you can keep your home cooler while you’re away. Even if it’s already programmed to account for your work day, take another look: holidays bring unusual and irregular schedules for many.
  • Give gifts that don’t need electricity or batteries.
  • Bake several dishes at a time to lessen appliance use.
  • Use the smallest appliance needed to get the job done. Microwaves are more efficient than the stove top or oven.
  • Use the fireplace and use wood (a renewable resource) instead. And, when the fire is out, be sure to close the damper to avoid drafts.
  • Unplug phantom energy users when you go on vacation (items that use energy even when they aren’t turned on).

One of the ways families can have the most significant impact on energy saving during the holidays is by decorating with items that are energy-efficient and durable. Here are some tips that won’t significantly change your traditions:

  • Consider using few or no lights in your holiday decorations.
  • If lights feel like a must, decorate with more energy-efficient LED strings. LED options are up to 90 percent more efficient than older incandescent lighting and they’re no longer difficult to obtain; all retailers now carry affordable options.
  • Use fiber optic decorations.
  • Plug your decorative indoor and outdoor lights into a timer to save electricity.
  • Decorate creatively and inexpensively with natural materials from your yard or with items you already own.