‘Green’ holiday can save money

Published 7:10 pm Thursday, November 27, 2008

Residents looking to tighten their budget this holiday season and save a little cash for the future will be surprised to find that small adjustments around the home could lead to a smaller power bill at the end of the month.

Patty Singleton-Seay, public relations manager for Covington Electric Cooperative, said residents could begin their savings with adjustments to decorations for the Christmas tree.

“LED [light emitting diodes] work extremely well for cutting energy costs during the holiday season,” she said. “They use a fraction of the energy of normal bulbs and many department stores now carry a good selection at budget-friendly costs.”

It is also recommended to unplug the Christmas tree overnight to reduce power consumption and to reduce the likelihood of a fire.

According to Singleton-Seay, some other lighting adjustments throughout the home can lead to big savings down the road.

“A big thing people can do, as far as household lighting, is to install compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs),” she said. “All of the major retailers have a good selection of CFLs. Lighting accounts for 20 percent of the average family’s monthly power bill. Switching standard bulbs to CFLs will help households consume approximately 75 percent less energy for lighting each month.”

Singleton-Seay said customer’s can expect to spend a little bit more money when purchasing CFLs, when compared to standard bulbs, but the units last an average of 10 times longer than the standard bulb.

Other energy saving tips include keeping the air conditioning thermostat at 68 degrees is recommend and setting your home’s water heater to a cozy 120 degrees.

“Both are good practices for maximizing your home’s energy usage,” she said. “For each 10-degree reduction in your water temperature you can save between 3 to 5 percent in energy costs each month.”

Residents can further the savings washing as many clothes as possible in cold water, washing only full loads of clothing and shortening showers.

“I know it will not be possible for everyone to shorten the length of their shower,” Singleton-Seay said. “If you can keep your showers to five minutes you can save as much as 1,000 gallons of hot water per month.”

She also recommended that residents replace filters in heating units as least once a month and install weather stripping or caulking around leaky doors and windows to minimize the amount of warm air leaving the home.

According to Singleton-Seay, shoppers should keep energy conservation in mind when shopping for home electronics by looking for Energy Star products. With Energy Star throughout the home, the typical homeowner can save more than 30 percent, or about $700 on annual energy bills, all while giving a gift to the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Many people will be buying televisions,” she said. “It might be helpful to know plasma televisions use twice the electricity twice as an LCD or projection television.”