Ah, fall! The season is filled with so many great traditions. After you hit up the apple orchard and pumpkin patch, bake off the season’s first fruit pie and contemplate all the ways your costume is going to win first prize at the Halloween party this year, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and actually prepare for the cold months ahead. Because October is Energy Efficiency month, it’s the perfect time to combine fall cleaning and organizing with energy saving strategies, so you’ll stay comfortable and sane once Old Man Winter stops in for a long visit.
Rotate and Organize Closets
After a lazy summer, most families’ closets and mudrooms need some serious attention. Enlist spouses, roommates and older kids to determine what can stay and what can go. Grab a large plastic storage bin from your local home store and pack away things like sandals and flip flops, beach towels, outdoor toys and citronella candles. Break out the heavy coats, scarves and mittens and organize the remaining leftover items. Wait a minute… is that a half of a box of free CFLs that you ordered from Duke Energy earlier this year buried on the top shelf?
Install Free CFLs
Seriously. Install the rest of your free CFLs RIGHT NOW. You can’t save energy if you don’t use them. If you’re particularly squeamish about throwing away old incandescent bulbs before they burn out, try putting them in fixtures you use the least often, like your attic stairs, closets or a spare guest bedroom.
Change Air Filters
Sure, it’s cold, but it shouldn’t look like it’s snowing inside your house! Dirty, clogged air filters make your HVAC work harder than it needs to, on top of being flat-out unhealthy and gross. Follow the instructions for your specific system, but it’s a good rule of thumb to replace air filters once every 3 months (or when the seasons change!)
If you’d like to learn more about CFLs and see if you qualify for a free energy efficiency kit, visit: http://www.duke-energy.com/whycfls/
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Thanksgiving morning, I get up at o’dark thirty to get the turkey in the oven and the casseroles assembled. Before Macy’s even THINKS about starting the parade, most of our dinner is prepped and ready to pop in the oven. My reward? Black Friday ads.
Yes, I am “one of those.” While I’m tackling the bird, I make the hubby run out and get me the ginormous paper. Then, I sit down with coffee and the ads, creating a master plan for my Black Friday adventure. I love to find steals and deals, and, yes, believe it or not, the camaraderie of shopping with others who enjoy this foray into the holiday shopping frenzy. (Which lasts until about 10am, at which time I grab my latte and head home!)
The shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a plethora of discounts, freebies and sales. And, since several family members have agreed to a gift price limit and/or homemade gift exchange, I have a little bit of extra money to spend to support our efforts to keep our heating and electric bills down. So where will I focus my spending?
Heating the family. I have lowered the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day while we are gone and while we are in bed; 68 degrees is the day time setting for when we are home. So to help keep everyone warm and grumble-free, I will be looking for: flannel sheets and pajamas; slippers; extra throw blankets; and down comforters. And maybe some of those snuggle blanket things as gifts!
Fun without the cords. Like most families, we are typically plugged in; yes, the spouse and I have actually had a conversation via Facebook while in the same room. But I like for us to have family time together UNplugged as well. For indoor fun, this is a great time of year to find new board games, playing cards, books and crafts really cheap. And, for the 3 snow days Charlotte gets each winter, I will stock up on gloves, scarves and hats. I am also going to look for deals on telescopes and footballs to gift to unnamed family and friends!
Meal planning. No, I don’t mean surfing the web for 101 ways to use up leftover turkey. Small kitchen appliances are a huge loss leader for stores trying to get you in the doors. Slow cooker and toaster oven discounts abound! You can even find deals on microwave ovens. Rather than heating up the entire oven for a dinner for 3, I use my slow cooker a couple of times a week. To share this energy (and mom!) efficient cooking method, several folks on my shopping list might be getting slow cookers this year ~ with some of my favorite recipes to make it extra special!
A couple of additional shopping tips:
Look at the stars. Energy Star appliances, that is. Home appliance and other big box stores will discount dishwashers, dryers, and ovens this time of year. I’m really not in the market right now, as my darling hubby got me new Energy Star-rated appliances a couple of years ago. But if you are looking to update your avocado green for stainless, now might be a good time to check out the deals! (Click here for more info on Energy Star appliances.)
Decorating with less. Less electricity. If you are looking to add to your holiday decorations, you might find some deals on LED lights and solar powered holiday landscape lights. Keep in mind that these will probably not be deeply discounted until AFTER Christmas, but if you need to replace the frayed, tangled spider-web of lights, you should be able to find some sales to take advantage of.
By the way, I cheated. Many “Black Friday” sites already have deals for stores posted, and I found all the items mentioned above at one or more stores!
I’d love to hear what steals and deals YOU find during the holiday season to help reduce your energy consumption and save money.
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Give Thanks for Savings!
Thanksgiving: a cherished time to gather around a delicious meal and reflect on the many people and opportunities that we are lucky to enjoy in life.
Or, you know, the day each year when you completely freak out because your toddler is streaking through the house while your turkey is on fire and your in-laws are sitting on the front porch smoking cigarettes and judging you.
No matter what your perspective is of this annual tradition, it’ll be here next week. If you’re the lucky designated host, you may want to consider these energy and time saving tips to make your holiday less stressful and less expensive.
Right pot, right burner
If your pot of water seems to be simmering even more slowly than your frustration, cover the pot with a lid rather than moving it to a larger burner.
Shut that door!
Frequently opening your oven wastes tons of energy and can lead to longer cooking times. Keep the internal temperature consistent and use your oven light to monitor progress.
Your microwave uses way less energy than an oven and cooks food faster. Less money, less time. What’s not to love?
Load that dishwasher
You know Uncle Ted will be loaded—so why not load up that dishwasher, too? Sure, over imbibing is a little different than packing dishes strategically, but you don’t want a hangover-worthy headache from high bills next month.
A few simple steps can help you save big—without having to sacrifice. So turn on the parade, mix yourself a cocktail and just remember: you have way more control over your energy use than just about any other thing on Thanksgiving.
Have a holiday EE tip? Share it in the comments!
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