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This post was sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities as part of their Project Envolve Ambassador program. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I still remember our very first year that we celebrated a Christmas season in our home. I can’t say that I remember that holiday because of a particular gift or meal or family happening. Nope! I remember that holiday season because of the enormous electric bill that arrived to our mailbox mid-January. To be honest, the thought of a double-to-triple the norm electric bill had never even crossed my mind. I was so focused on entertaining and gift wrapping and decorating, that I never stopped to think of how all of that extra cooking and decorative illumination would impact my electricity usage. After learning that lesson, I vowed to incorporate some energy efficient practices into my holiday routine.
Sometimes making energy efficient changes to your everyday can feel daunting. I can tell you firsthand though, it can be as simple as turning off a light when you leave a room. We started small and every year we tried to add to our holiday energy efficient routine.
If I had to pick the top 3 things that contributed to a lower post-holiday electric bill while drastically cutting down on our electric usage, they would be:
Putting outdoor lights on a timer
Switching to LED light strands for decorating
Using smart plugs and switches for holiday decor
We decorate the outside of our house with lots of lights. We picked up a timer a few years ago and it’s a total game changer for saving electricity. Our timer has a solar sensor on it. The sensor senses when the sun is going down and the lights turn on automatically. We set a certain amount of time for the lights to be on and after that the lights are off for the night. Every year I see that some of our neighbors have their lights on all night long, not turning them off until morning. Such a waste! Our lights go on at sundown and stay on for 6 or 7 hours, turning off automatically around midnight.
Years ago when LED lights were first starting to gain popularity, they had two major drawbacks: they had a blueish tint to them and lacked the “warm” look of traditional incandescent strands of white lights. They were also significantly more expensive that non-LED lights.
Even 6 or 7 years ago the high prices of LED lights made it a bit of an investment to replace all of your traditional lights with LED. We started small: we bought a couple strands of LED lights a year and slowly phased out our traditional lights. We also took advantage of a “trade in” sale offered by one of the big box stores. They handed out a coupon for LED lights for every old strand you traded in.
Now the LED lights come in various hues and colors and many have that “warmer” look then that they used to lack.
But of course, the biggest advantage of switching to LED illumination is the low cost to operate. See below for a direct comparison of how much a string of LED lights will cost you compared to a string of traditional incandescent lights.
Smart Plugs and Switches
The term “smart home” is a phrase that is becoming more and more common (and it has nothing to do with what grades are on the kids’ report cards!). A “smart home” refers to one that uses WiFi-enabled plugs and switches to control various lights and other electronics. Not only can you control those plugs through apps on your phone while at home, you can also operate them remotely when you’re away. You can turn on your slow cooker from your office. Rev up the Christmas lights from the mall. This flexibility helps you use electric more efficiently. You don’t have to compromise things like home security because you can turn on that porch light and one in the living room even while you’re in line at the coffee shop (or across the country on vacation for that matter!).
Some new smart plugs also feature the ability to view electricity usage to really see how much of your electric bill is going to whatever item you plug into that smart plug. This is so helpful when you’re trying to gauge where you electric usage is occurring!
Side by Side Comparison
Take a look at the screenshots below. I plugged a string of incandescent lights into a smart plug and here is a look at an estimated usage cost per day and per month. (The daily usage is so low because it was only plugged in for ten minutes during my test.)
Now look at this one. Here is a usage estimate for a string of LED lights. Can you believe the difference?! I knew that LED lights were more energy efficient than incandescent lights, but never realized by how much!!
It would cost $4.70 per month to run that string of incandescent lights round the clock. Now think about how many strings of those lights you typically use to decorate your tree, the outside of your house, etc and multiply that number by $4.70.
Compare that number to just $.49 per string of LED lights per month!! That’s an incredible savings and extremely energy efficient!
When it comes to holiday decorating this year, remember, start small! Even little changes each year will add up to big savings on your electric bill.
PPL Electric Utilities offers tools, tips and energy efficiency programs to help customers save. Visit pplelectric.com/savings for more information.