Happy Holidays from HomeWorks!
As you find yourself wrapped up in holiday excitement and to-do lists, here are some tips to help you enjoy a safe and energy efficient holiday season.
- Be kind to your oven. Every time you open the oven door to check on that dish, the temperature inside drops by as much as 25 degrees. This forces your oven to use more energy in order to get back to the proper cooking temperature. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Remember to take advantage of residual heat for the last five to 10 minutes of baking time – this is another way to save energy use. If you’re using a ceramic or glass dish, you can typically set your oven 25 degrees lower than stated, since these items hold more heat than metal pans.
- Give your burners some relief. The metal reflectors under your stovetop burners should always be clean to keep your stove working as effectively as possible.
- Use small appliances, such as your slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven, or warming plate, more often, instead of the oven and stovetop. This will result in substantial energy savings.
- Take advantage of heat from the sun. Open your curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
- Find and seal all air leaks. Check areas near pipes, gaps around chimneys, cracks near doors and windows and any unfinished places.
- Maintain your heating system. Schedule services for your heating system before it gets too cold to find out what maintenance you may need to keep your system operating efficiently.
- Eliminate “vampire energy” waste. When you are not using an appliance or an electronic, unplug it to save energy. Power strips are definitely a good investment for your home.
- Purchase LED holiday lights. A string of traditional lights uses 36 watts of power and a string of LED lights only uses 5 watts. They can even last up to 10 times longer!
- Ask for Energy Star-rated TVs and appliances. This will save you a lot of power use because the standby-mode is lower and the device will use less energy overall.
- Combine errands to reduce the number of small trips. To-do lists seem to pile up around this time of the year. Believe it or not, several short trips in the winter can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip covering the same distance as all of the shorter ones.
Being energy efficient is usually not top priority when celebrating the holidays, and most of us don’t realize the lack of efficiency until the next bill comes in. Prevent your post-holiday shock this year by thinking creatively and remembering all of these tips!
Put Safety at the Top of Your Christmas List
- LED holiday lights stay cool to the touch, as well as being more energy-efficient.
- Test your holiday lights by connecting each strand before hanging them.
- Make sure there are no broken bulbs, or damaged or frayed cords. Faulty lights can send an electrical charge through a tree and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with a branch. Discard any defective strands.
- Use holiday lights that include the Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) label.
- Avoid resting bulbs on tree needles and branches. Try using a clip to keep the bulbs upright.
- Don't overload electrical outlets or extension cords. Most lights are designed to connect no more than three strands. Inspect the wires periodically during the holidays to make sure they're intact and not warm to the touch.
- Turn off all indoor and outdoor holiday lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
Real or artificial, short or tall, Christmas trees are often the culprit for danger. Incorporate these safety guidelines in your decorating routine:
- Make sure an artificial tree is labeled “fire resistant.” Be aware that “fire resistant” does not mean “fire proof.” Exercise caution when it comes to your tree.
- Make sure a live tree is fresh and green. Dry, brittle limbs and shedding needles are a breeding ground for sparks. Water a live tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.
- Place any type of tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators.
The thrill of holiday presents is quickly forgotten when a gift leads to injury. Here are a few suggestions to keep children safe:
- Select gifts that are age appropriate for the recipient. Toys recommended for older children pose too many risks for younger children to use safely.
- Educate children on electrical safety when using any new toy or product that requires an electrical connection.
- Review all instructions and safety guidelines included with new products before you allow the child to use it. This ensures the safety of the child and protects the integrity of the product.
Here are two tip sheets to download and share: