Greening Your Holiday
You can deck your halls, trim your tree and green up your life.
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December 19, 2007 by Steven Castle

The Alliance to Save Energy offers some tips to lower home and vehicle energy bills, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions during this holiday season—and perhaps even spark some gift ideas.

Go LED. You can lower electricity costs and increase safety with LED (light emitting diode) holiday lights. They use 10 times less energy than incandescent minilights and 100 times less energy than standard bulbs, they last more than 50,000 hours, and they are safer because they’re virtually indestructible and cool. They are safe to the touch and eliminate fire concerns. They are easily strung and don’t overload a typical household electrical circuit. If the bulb does burn out, the other bulbs will stay lit, so you can easily replace the bad bulb.

Use timers. To further maximize holiday lighting savings, use timers to limit light displays to no more than six evening hours. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple your energy costs—and create four times the pollution. Untended incandescent lights can cause fires, so always unplug your interior holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

Be a Star. Buy energy-saving presents. Electronics, home office equipment, appliances and other products with the Energy Star label—the federal government’s symbol of energy efficiency—not only make great holiday gifts but can also cut related home energy bills up to 30 percent.

Get a credit. Make home improvements that keep your family toasty—and get a tax credit to boot. Add insulation, sealing, high efficiency windows—and save up to $500 on your federal income taxes if improvements are made by December 31, 2007. Details at http://www.ase.org/taxcredits.

Drive conservatively. Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house will cost more this year with higher gasoline prices, particularly high for this time of year. The http://www.ase.org/content/news/detail/3780” title=“Alliance to Save Energy offers maintenance and driving tips “>Alliance to Save Energy offers maintenance and driving tips to improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicles and lower your costs at the pump.

Get in the spirit of Kwanzaa. Celebrate the African-American spiritual week of remembering, reassessing, recommitting, and rejoicing by reassessing your power consumption, recommitting to energy-efficient practices, and rejoicing in the savings.

Unplug the video games. And turn off the millionth broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life. Read your favorite holiday story instead. Your children may appreciate your attention and time, and you will be saving energy in the process.

Put kids to work. Pay the local kids to shovel your driveway. Better to give them some extra spending money than to use it toward the purchase of a smog-producing, gas-guzzling snowblower.

No roasting chestnuts. At least not over an open halogen torchiere. It can burn hot enough to cause a fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Instead, give yourself the gift of an energy-efficient Energy Star-certified torchiere lamp, for a brighter, thriftier, safer holiday.

Walk the walk. Or strap on those cross-country skies or roller blades or ride your bike to tour the neighborhood holiday decorations. It’s a great way to work off those extra holiday calories, and it will cut down on your gasoline costs.

Fa-la-la-la-la! Instead of leaving your door open to carolers and losing all that precious heat, pull on your parka, turn off the TV and electronics and join in the fun. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, too!

Get more tips. Additional year-round, energy-efficiency tips and resources can be found on the Alliance to Save Energy’s http://www.ase.org/consumers”>consumer web site.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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