The holidays are officially here. For many people, that involves taking part in traditions, decking out their homes with lights and decorations, planning family get-togethers (or trying to figure out a way to do so safely, thanks to COVID), and running what might seem like a thousand errands!
One thing many people don’t tend to think about over the holidays is the environment. Now, before you drop that sugar cookie you were about to eat, just wait.
It’s important to understand that some of the traditions and things you love to do during the holidays might not be the most eco-friendly. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t still enjoy them. Instead, consider eco-friendly alternatives, or different ways of doing more sustainable things.
From your decorating to the meals you make over the season, it doesn’t have to be difficult to develop eco-friendly habits this holiday that you can carry over into the rest of the year.
Decking the Halls But Doing it Better
A study performed for the U.S. Department of Energy found that holiday lights consume 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year. If you’re not sure how to put that in perspective, it’s more power than some small countries use in an entire year.
The holidays might not seem the same without lights and decorations, but there are alternatives to consider so your home doesn’t have the power to light up the New York City skyline. One way you can conserve energy with your holiday lights is to switch to LED bulbs. They can save up to 75% of energy, and they look as vibrant and colorful as traditional options. A few other “bright ideas” to save energy with your decorating include:
- Turning off other lights in the room when the tree is lit
- Using fiber optic decorations
- Only having the lights on during certain hours (when it’s dark)
- Decorating inside with candles
- Using battery-powered lights
You can still make your home look beautiful this season, inside and out, without wasting a lot of energy. Consider it a challenge to find ways to make it look great! In doing so, you’re bound to have more unique decorations, and even “outshine” your neighbors!
Staying Warm in Winter
Baby, it’s cold outside!
Depending on where you live, winter weather can become downright frigid, and no one wants to feel chilly during the holidays. It’s easy to think about the warm glow of the fireplace, or getting cozy on the couch after turning up the heat.
But, there are ways you can stay warm without wasting so much energy. First, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is well-insulated. If your home isn’t properly insulated, you’ll experience drafts and leaks, and the heat that is already inside will dissipate faster, causing your utility bills to be higher than they need to be. Some of the best insulation material for retaining heat includes:
- Sheep’s wool
Another good rule of thumb is to keep your thermostat down. That might seem impossible when it’s cold outside, but you can turn it down a few degrees when you aren’t home, or if you have multiple people over in your home that will be generating more body heat and keeping it warmer.
Finally, you might not think a fireplace uses a lot of energy, but because traditional wood-burning options can be messy, expensive, and even dangerous, many homeowners opt for electric options. A 1,500-watt electric fireplace can heat about 400 square feet of space, which is usually enough for a living room, den, etc. If you choose to go this route, make sure you aren’t leaving the fireplace on all the time. Using it sparingly will cut down on energy use and costs. Once the room has been heated, turn it off for a while.
Making the Most of Your Meals
“And they’ll feast, feast, feast! They’ll eat their Who-pudding and rare Who-roast beast…”
The Grinch may not have liked the idea of a big meal around the holidays, but you don’t have to live in Whoville to know it’s a season of eating! Thankfully, there are a few ways you can make your holiday feasting a little bit greener this year, starting by knowing where your food comes from.
Buying food locally, especially fresh produce and meat, is always a more sustainable choice. Food that is grown or raised down the street is going to have a smaller carbon footprint than food that needs to be shipped across the country. Additionally, you might want to choose different options for your “main course” to be more eco-friendly. Lamb, for example, has a much lower impact on the environment than cattle, so considering a roasted leg of lamb for your holiday meal instead of beef can be a small change that makes a big difference.
When you’re cleaning up from your big meal, you can make better environmental choices, too. Installing a low-flow faucet on your kitchen sink can reduce usage by 40-60% while you’re washing dishes. If you opt to use a dishwasher, wait until it’s full before running a cycle.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy everything the holidays have to offer while making better choices for the planet. Keep these holiday hacks in mind to make the most of the season while staying a bit greener, and all of our days can continue to be merry and bright.
About The Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but lifestyle and home improvement topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
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