During the holidays, we’re always spending something whether it’s time, money, energy or giving cheer to those we love. No, the house won’t light itself and the presents won’t just appear on your front porch, but there are ways you can keep from over spending and have a more sustainable holiday season that gives back to the environment, your community and family.
You may have a box stored away in your closet full of old incandescent holiday lights that you’ve used for years. Incandescent lights are very inefficient—they only emit about half the light as advertised and when disposed, often end up in landfills. You can begin to save by replacing your old incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR® certified LED lighting. The benefits of LED lights include using 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs, increased brightness, they’re eco-friendly and are safer as they emit a much cooler temperature than incandescent bulbs. LED lights are likely to last up to 10 times longer than incandescent lights, and if you prefer the incandescent look for your lights, look for bulbs with warm white on the label.
When installing holiday lighting, make sure you use timers. These are easy to use (just plug it into your outlet and plug the lights into it) and inexpensive. You can set the timers so your lights will automatically turn on at sundown and off before sunrise. You may even choose to keep them on only during the evening hours when most people will be out to see them. If you are still using incandescent lighting, this is especially important to ensure lower energy costs.
It’s not all about the lights you have installed inside and outside your home. Reflective ornaments and tinsel also add to the shine of your home at night, so consider including them as decorations this year. Do your neighbors have elaborate lighting in their yard? You could mirror their setup just with a string of silver bells along your railing or roofline. Ribbons, wreaths and garland can also bring out the holiday cheer for your home without spending any money on lighting.
Online shopping and home delivery are options now for almost every major retailer. Save gas and time by not leaving home to shop. If you have to go to the store, take your own reusable bags. Visit several stores in one trip and consider shopping at a big-box store where you can find different kinds of gifts for everyone on your list in one stop.
Once wrapping paper is ripped up after opening a gift, it normally goes straight to the trash can. Use creative materials from around your home to wrap presents this year. Scarves, fabric and handkerchiefs all make for great wrapping materials. Newspaper, magazine paper, tins and pans for cooking and other home and garden items will also work. Look for alternatives to battery-powered toys for children. If you do purchase any electronics, include rechargeable batteries and look for toys that are energy-efficient in nature.
The holidays can be a time where you waste energy, but with these helpful tips you can turn your white Christmas green this year.