The winter holiday season has officially begun, and with it comes the frenzy of decorating, holiday gatherings, gift buying, and errand running. Don't let your energy-saving efforts fall by the wayside amid all the festivities; the tips below will help you save energy and money even as you celebrate.

Use LED Holiday Lights
LED—or light-emitting diode—holiday lights are much more efficient than traditional incandescent lights. While the initial purchase price of LED light strings is higher, consider the cost of running each type of light string for 12 hours per day for 40 days:

Type of Light

Electricity Cost *

Standard C-7
(125 bulbs, 4 watts each)


Mini incandescent lights
(300 bulbs, 0.4 watts each)


LED holiday lights
(280 bulbs, 0.04 watts each)


*Assumes an electricity price of 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour (Annual Energy Outlook 2008 Residential Average).

LED light strings also last longer and are safer to use than traditional incandescent light strings. Learn more about the advantages of LED holiday lights on, and visit the ENERGY STAR® site to find manufacturers and brands.

Entertain Efficiently
Holidays often bring many guests—which usually means lots of food and cooking. Check out these tips from Jen's post in September on energy-efficient cooking for great ways to save in the kitchen. And when your guests arrive, be sure to turn down the thermostat—the combination of the stove, the hot food, and the warm bodies should keep the house plenty comfortable.

Purchase Energy-Efficient Gifts
Whether your goal is to help the recipient save money or just to give that cool gadget, there are plenty of options for energy efficient gifts.

  • Electronics are always popular gifts, and you can fulfill your loved ones' wishes while also helping them save energy by purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified electronics. If a new television is on your list, more strict requirements for ENERGY STAR labeling went into effect just last month, so be sure to search for an ENERGY STAR qualified TV. (Also, if you or a loved one are sticking with your analog-only TV and do not subscribe to cable or satellite services, you'll need a converter box for the February 17, 2009, switch to digital-only broadcasts in the United States. An ENERGY STAR digital-to-analog converter box will ensure that the television still works and will save energy. Also be sure to apply for a coupon to help offset the cost of the converter box).
  • Computer and office equipment and appliances also receive ENERGY STAR labeling, so do your homework before buying!
  • Rechargeable batteries (and chargers) and compact fluorescent bulbs may not be at the top of anyone's list, but they make great stocking stuffers and the savings will surely be appreciated.
  • Time and skills are always good gifts. Help someone on your list complete a do-it-yourself home energy audit, or help them air seal their house, install insulation, or insulate their old water heater tank. Your gift will keep on giving as they see savings throughout the year.

Combine Errands to Reduce the Number of Trips You Take
The errands and to-dos just seem to pile up this time of year! We are always out and about, picking up one more thing for dinner or one more gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, all of these errands add up; several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm, according to Plan to combine multiple errands into one trip to be as efficient as possible. Also check out other tips for efficient driving from


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