Energy savings: The gift that keeps on giving

Laura Oakleaf

One of the best parts of the holidays are the decorative lights that adorn our homes, but those twinkly lights can come at a price. Holiday lighting in the United States alone uses enough electricity to power 200,000 homes for up to a year. If all the decorative lights sold in the US this year were ENERGY STAR® certified, the energy cost savings would be $850 million each year and would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from nearly 940,000 vehicles, according to the EPA. There are great opportunities for energy savings when thinking about the holidays, and we have compiled a few tips to help save you money and energy during the holiday season.

  • Use LED holiday lights. LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last considerably longer -- incandescent lights can be used for 3,000 hours while LED lights could last up to 50,000 hours. You can recycle your broken or old holiday light strings and extension cords at various locations via the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County’s Holiday Light Recycling Program. Click here for specific community drop-off locations.
  • Limit the time the lights are on. Use a timer to turn lights on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night. If you don’t use a timer, unplug the lights before going to bed for the evening. This is even more critical in saving energy this holiday season if not using LEDs.
  • Use reflective decorating. Tinsel or mirrored ornaments reflect the glow from your lights making your tree even shinier.
  • ENERGY STAR® electronics and appliances make great gifts. ENERGY STAR® certified products use up to 60 percent less energy than their non-certified counterparts. If you are buying electronics or appliances as gifts this year, like TVs, computers, DVD players, Blu-Ray disc players, sound bars, MP3 speaker docks, etc., do your research and find out which brands are ENERGY STAR® certified products. Click here for more details.
  • Turn down the thermostat. Lowering the thermostat by 1 degree can decrease energy usage by 2 percent. Turn your thermostat down while there are additional guests in your home and while you are gone visiting others.

These tips were compiled from Consumer Reports, Department of Energy and Resnet.  

Want to learn more about how you can save energy and money in your home all year round? Visit our website or contact Sarah Edwards at for more information on smart meter and energy efficiency programs.