How to Reduce Your Household Energy Consumption Over Christmas

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Households use a lot of energy over the Christmas period. In Australia, we’re baking away under the summer sun, so the temptation to run the air conditioning, or to line up a fleet of fans on full blast, is gigantic.

We’re testing out our new shiny electronics, cooking Christmas dinner, baking Christmas cakes, and stringing up dazzling light displays for the neighbourhood to see – all things that wreak havoc on utility bills.

We’ve drummed up a short list of little saving tips for you to remedy that. Christmas is a time of giving, but it can be hard to organise the perfect family day if you’re skint. Follow these, and hopefully the only thing in the red will be your stockings!

Power

  • Cool it – Did you know that up to 38% of our energy usage goes into heating and cooling? While everyone else in the world is huddling up to their heaters come Yuletide, we’re crowded around the air conditioning.
  • This year, why not try opening up some airflow through your house? Providing an avenue for wind might not give that immediate blast of cool air, but it’ll lower your house temperature and aerate that clammy feeling without giving your power company a hefty Christmas bonus. Just make sure to leave the fly screen closed, unless you want a whole extra family of guests this year.

  • LED it shine – This one’s a bit more festive. When you’re stringing up the lights make sure that you buy LED instead of filament bulbs. LEDs use up to 90% less power than their main alternative, and they also won’t overheat. That makes them both cheaper to use and safer to operate.
  • This might seem simple, but you should also remember to turn your lights off sometimes! Too many people leave their lights on during the day, draining power where nobody can use them. If you’re too busy bustling with holiday cheer and need to brighten up the neighbourhood, you might try getting some coloured props. You can then string them up with lighting during the night and turn them off during the day while still spreading cheer.

  • Turn off gadgets – Christmas isn’t complete without some kind of tech gizmo – TVs, game consoles, and handheld devices are all some of the biggest purchases of the last few years – but make sure you buy and use them correctly.
  • Just like lights, an LCD TV uses 25% less power than old screens, and some of them can use a whole bunch due to their size. Turning off high-usage appliance at the mains saves around 10% of power, as does only keeping it on while you’re watching; leaving the TV blaring when you’re in another room is a pretty good idea if you’re looking to drain power, but not so much if you’re wanting to save.

Gas

  • Put a lid on it – Christmas lunch and dinner traditionally have a lot of slow-cooked meals, and a lot of different dishes. It can be tempting when juggling plates to leave the lids off, but you’ll end up heating the pot three times over to get the same amount of cooking done.
  • It’s also good to remember that boiling an electric kettle uses much, much less energy than heating one from scratch on the stove. If you need boiling water, even if it’s to cook with, try boiling the kettle on the side and bringing it back to the boil on the stovetop.

  • Make waves – Thawing frozen foods in the fridge, especially meat, reduces cooking time by a massive amount. Don’t forget to leave any big dishes some time before cooking, or you’ll run into a big chunk of energy wastage.
  • If you do need a bit more time to thaw, remember that using a microwave is a lot more energy efficient than a stove. It’s not as good as a fridge, but it will help lighten the load.

Water

  • Pool party – If you’ve got a pool, now’s the perfect time to make use of it! Just remember to keep it covered when you’re done for the day.
  • Now, putting a pool cover on after your dip can cause hundreds of litres of water evaporation every day. That’s hundreds of litres that you’ll have to refill, dollars out of your budget, and water out of our reserves. Chucking a tarpaulin over the pool when you’re finished swimming is a no brainer for everyone involved.

  • Lock up before you go – If you’re off on holidays for Christmas, you don’t want to be paying for what you’re not using! We’ve already gone through turning off your power at the switch to save power, but a lot of people forget to turn off hot water storage or other items used daily before they jet off.
  • Go through a list of utilities, like water and power, that you can turn off or lower when you’re not using them, then go around and check them off. You’d be crazy to be cooling down a house in Australia while you’re in Fiji.

  • Go green – It’s summer, so we’re obviously going to be using more water than usual. More showers since we’re out and about and sweating in the sun. More water needed so that the plants don’t die, and more drinking water.
  • Give yourself a bit of a boring gift before December rolls around, and invest in some energy-saving heads for your appliances. Grabbing water-efficient showerheads and hoses or getting a greener washing machine will pay for themselves in your bills over time, and even simple things like putting a plug in the sink will allow you to reuse your dirty water to water your garden instead of letting it go down the drain.

‘Tis the season

Weirdly enough, despite energy consumption skyrocketing at Christmas, the stats show that Christmas and Boxing Day themselves are actually some of the lowest for the year (though of course, virtually all industrial power is off over the day).

We like going out to the beach for a meal, or even just to the park. Turn off the lights before you go out for the day and most households won’t even make a dip in our energy use until they get home at night. It’s the days leading up to it, and just after, that you’re really going to have to look out for.

So don’t fall prey to thinking that it’s just the day, because most people’s Christmas is prepared in the weeks before, slaving over ovens and baking under the heat, and you’ll be wise to budget your energy around the whole period.