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Making your holidays bright, festive—and efficient 

One way to reduce the financial burden of the most wonderful time of year is by implementing efficiency tips to use less energy at home and lower your monthly bills. 

This year, make the switch to LEDs for all your holiday lighting. LED holiday lights consume 70% less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. 

Pick up a few light timers so you don’t have to remember to unplug your lights every evening. Smart holiday lights also offer a wide range of app-controlled options, including time, colors, music and modes. 

If you are hosting guests, your household will consume more electricity than normal, so follow some efficiency basics. Program the thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home and dial it back 8 to 10 degrees at night or when you leave. (Exception: If you have a heat pump, set it and forget it in winter. Adjusting it more than a couple of degrees in heat mode could unintentionally cause the auxiliary emergency heat to come on and use more energy.) 

Run the clothes washer on cold with full loads; turn off lights, TV, computers and gaming systems when not in use. 

Cooking with efficiency 

Whether you are making holiday treats or a feast, there are ways to help lower energy use in the kitchen. 

Use the oven light to check food. Every time the oven door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by up to 25 degrees, according to the Department of Energy. When possible, use a slow cooker, microwave, toaster oven or warming plate, which use less energy than an oven and stovetop. 

To maximize food safety and energy efficiency, store food in shallow containers in order to cool more quickly in the refrigerator.

MIRANDA BOUTELLE writes on energy efficiency for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

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