We spend a lot of money during the holidays – parties, family dinners, toys from Santa and the list goes on and on. Your energy bills can skyrocket with your stove, oven, and dishwasher working overtime. Not to mention, the door to your refrigerator or freezer standing wide open as people search for hidden treats. But, the Christmas tree isn’t the only thing that’s green for the holidays. There are dozens of ways to save money and energy while still having a good time.
The holidays are a time for delicious food shared with friends or family. You might think about the energy that helps you create magnificent culinary delights. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to keep energy costs down. New kitchen appliances use nearly 50 percent less energy than those built a decade ago. But, before you get cracking, lower the thermostat a few degrees. Once you turn on your appliances and your guests arrive, the temperature inside your home will rise.
Give the Frigidaire a break
- Your refrigerator and freezer are pretty efficient, but they’re one of the largest energy consumers in your house (up to 15 percent of your home’s total energy usage). Keeping the doors closed as much as possible to operate your fridge and freezer more efficiently and economically. But, leaving the door open for a longer period of time while you take out everything you need is more efficient than opening and closing the doors multiple times.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer relatively full. The mass of cold items inside will help your refrigerator regain the correct temperature after the door is opened.
- Keep the canned drinks in a cooler with ice, so you won’t open the refrigerator door as often.
Stovetop tips and tricks
- When cooking on your stovetop, match the size of the pan to the heating element. Less energy will be lost to the surrounding air and more heat will be transferred to the pan. For example, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy.
- Keep the burners and reflectors as clean as possible. They will heat better and save energy. When you need to replace the reflectors, buy high quality ones. The best ones on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy used to heat the element.
Don’t get burned by the oven:
- Don’t open the oven door unless it’s really necessary. To take a peek at what’s cooking inside, turn on the oven light and use the oven window. There are also dozens of meat thermometers that you can use without opening the door, too. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside up to 25 degrees, increasing cooking time and wasting energy.
- If possible, cook a few items at the same time. Just make sure you leave enough room for the heat to circulate.
- Warm your desserts in your still warm oven while you’re eating. By the time you’re finished, the pie will be ready.
- When you’re finished using the oven, leave the oven door ajar for a little while – the residual heat will keep your kitchen warmer.
- Don’t overlook your other culinary tools. Microwaves are fast and efficient. They also use 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens. You can use them to bake yams, steam your favorite vegetables, or warm up the gravy. But, when it comes to the large items (like a ham or turkey), breads, or specialty items, your oven or stovetop are usually more efficient.
- Remember the small appliances tucked away in the cabinets. They’re energy savers that can save you money all year. Slow cookers, like crock-pots, will cook an entire meal for about 17 cents worth of electricity. Electric skillets can really multitask by cooking a variety of food items in various ways and some even double as serving dishes.
- If you’re baking, toasting, or broiling small food items, use a toaster oven. They use one-third less energy than the bigger conventional oven.
- If you’re an adventurous cook, get out of the kitchen. Roast your turkey and vegetables on the grill for a tasty treat. Or give fried or smoked turkey a try.
Washing your dishes
- Put everyone to work. Gathering several people together to wash and dry the dishes by hand can save energy – if you don’t keep a steady stream of hot water flowing. A load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand. However, if you fill the wash and rinse basins (instead of letting the water run), you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher and use almost no electricity.
- If you opt to use the dishwasher, fill it up completely before you turn it on. If you must rinse your dishes before loading them, use cold water so you’re not heating water unnecessarily.
- Use the energy-saving cycles. You can save up to 10 percent of your dishwashing energy costs.
Throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, you’ll watch your energy bills drop – one more thing to be thankful for. But, saving energy should extend to your entire home all year long.
Your HVAC system and plumbing run all year long, so they need extra attention. While you’re preparing for the holidays, contact your HVAC and plumbing professional, like Abacus Plumbing & Berkeys Air Conditioning. They have energy saving tips, too. They may also have specials on equipment or other services. Your HVAC and plumbing professionals may also have service plans, like BAM Maintenanca Plan, that can help save you money on service calls and provide annual tune-ups.
You can call Abacus Plumbing & Air Conditioning in Houston 24/7 at 713-766-3605 for questions and scheduling information or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abacusplumbing.