We're getting in the energy-saving spirit this holiday. During the next 12 days, we will be sharing tips to help you save energy and money at home during the holidays. Check back every day for a new tip!

Day 12: Drive Your Way to Fuel Savings

Whether you are driving across town to do errands or across the country to visit family, fuel costs can add up over the holidays. One way to reduce fuel consumption is to empty your car after all your driving trips -- an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could increase gas costs by up to $.08 a gallon.

Day 11: Plug Holiday Decorations into Power Strips

From holiday lights to listening to Christmas carols on repeat, the holidays can take a toll on your home’s energy consumption. Even when you aren’t using lights and electronics, they still draw small amounts of energy -- at an average cost of $100 a year for American households. Plug your electronics into a power strip and turn it off to reduce your energy bills.

Day 10: Install a Light Timer

When decking your house in holiday lights, use timer controls to lower energy consumption and save money. Timer controls allow you turn lights on and off at specific times, while staying in the holiday spirit.  

Day 9: Use LED Lights

This holiday, light up your home with LED lights. In addition to being sturdier and more resistant to breakage, LED holiday lights also last longer and consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. 

Day 8: Save Energy in the Kitchen

Between holiday baking and meal preparation, your oven is probably working overtime. Cooking alone accounts for 4.5 percent of your home’s energy use, and when factoring in other kitchen appliances, your kitchen’s energy use can be as high as 15 percent. By taking simple actions in the kitchen -- like using the right-sized pots on stove burners to save about $36 annually for an electric range or $18 for gas, and using the oven light to check on a dish’s progress to prevent heat loss instead of opening the door -- you can entertain in style without raising your energy bill.

Day 7: Purchase Rechargeable Batteries & an ENERGY STAR Battery Charger

If you are buying gifts that require batteries, consider purchasing rechargeable batteries -- which are more cost effective than disposable batteries -- and an ENERGY STAR charger for them. In the U.S. alone, more energy-efficient battery chargers could save families more than $170 million annually. 

Day 6: Buy ENERGY STAR Electronics

Are computers, TVs or other electronics on your wish list this holiday season? Be sure to ask for ENERGY STAR home electronics for instant energy savings. Depending on usage, an ENERGY STAR computer can save 30-65 percent more energy compared a computer without this designation.

Day 5: Take Advantage of Sunlight

Use sunlight to your advantage this winter. Open curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally warm your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

Day 4: Prepare Your Windows for Winter

Before you curl up on the couch in front of the window this holiday season, be sure to take steps to reduce heat loss. Weatherizing your windows can reduce drafts, and installing storm windows can cut heat loss through your windows by 25-50 percent. Explore more tips for saving energy on your windows.

Day 3: Maintain Your Fireplace

It isn’t the holidays without a crackling fire, but don’t let your energy bills go up with the smoke. Proper chimney maintenance -- like sealing your fireplace flue damper, caulking around your hearth, and installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow warmed air back into the room -- will help keep warm air in your house and cold air out.

Day 2: Install a Programmable Thermostat

Don’t pay for warm air that you aren’t using. By installing and setting a programmable thermostat, you can save money on your energy bills -- lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for 8 hours can save 5-15 percent a year on heating bills. If you are traveling this holiday, be sure to program your thermostat for energy savings. 

Day 1: Get a Home Energy Audit

This holiday, give the gift of energy savings by purchasing a professional home energy audit for someone. A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your home is losing energy -- and what you can do to save money -- by checking for air leaks, inspecting insulation, surveying heating and cooling equipment and more. By making upgrades to your home following a home energy audit, you could save 5-30 percent on your energy bills. For more information, check out Energy Saver’s home energy audit resources.

Rebecca Matulka
Served as a digital communications specialist for the Energy Department.Served as a digital communications specialist for the Energy Department.
more by this author