Thanksgiving is over. The holiday decorations are going up and people have begun their holiday shopping. While your thoughts may be on the list of gifts you need to buy, here at Energy Saver, we've been busy making a list of a different sort—a list of ways to get into the holiday spirit by saving money and energy during the holidays. The holiday season is a time for giving, and there's no better way to celebrate than by giving back to the planet and saving energy and money in the process!

Shop with Reusable Bags

Thousands of paper and plastic bags end up in landfills every year. Rather than adding to that waste, shop with reusable cloth bags. This not only reduces waste but also offers sturdier transportation of your gifts. If you don't plan to use cloth bags, try to consolidate your purchases into as few bags as possible.

Also remember to unload your car after shopping trips. Adding extra weight to your vehicle can cost you more at the pump (or at the outlet, if you drive an electric vehicle).

Dig into Leftovers

There tends to be an abundance of food during the holidays. Properly store leftovers to avoid food waste.  Reuse empty glass jars, plastic tubs, coffee cans, or other containers you might be tempted to just throw away. These containers can be used to store leftovers or other miscellaneous items like ribbons for wrapping presents. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before reusing. For more food storage tips check out our tips for refrigerator and freezer use.

If you have any whole, untouched food left over after parties you can donate it to a local food bank or shelter.

Decorate without Splurging on Electricity


When decorating your home this holiday season, you can first prioritize electricity-free tinsel and garland to reflect the surrounding light. 

If you do plug your decorations in, be sure to use LED lights. Your utility cost could be as low as $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days, compared to $10 for incandescent lights. LED lights are also less of a fire risk, more durable, and last longer. Setting your lights on a timer can also help save money and energy by ensuring your lights turn on and off at specific times.

This year you could even consider purchasing and decorating a potted tree. Then when the holidays are over you can plant it in your yard or keep it in the house to reduce waste from cutting down and disposing of live trees. Our landscaping page is a good reference for how, what, and where to plant. If you purchase a cut tree, look for local programs to recycle your tree. Many communities offer free mulching programs. 

(Re)wrap Gifts

Every year at holiday time thousands of pounds of wrapping paper is produced, using exorbitant amounts of energy, and quickly discarded just moments after the precious gift held within is opened.  In fact, each ream of paper takes approximately the energy equivalent of 2 gallons of gasoline to produce—a thought that is not exactly glittering.

When you are wrapping gifts, consider using recycled or reused paper. You can create your own custom wrapping paper using magazine clippings with pictures of trees and snow. Reusing gift bags and ribbons and bows, or a simply accent like a sprig of fresh cut greenery reduces waste and saves money. 


Wrapping gifts in fabric can be a great choice, but only if the fabric is going to someone who will reuse it in some way. Buying fabric just for the sake of wrapping is not any more energy efficient than paper. However, if the gift can be wrapped in something that is also part of the gift, then problem solved, such as kitchen utensils wrapped in cloth napkins, or bath products wrapped in a fluffy new towel or bathrobe. Be especially thoughtful and make those gifts sustainable!

Of course, the most energy efficient way to wrap gifts is not at all! Choose presents that don’t need wrapping. Donations to charities, classes on a fun new hobby, and tickets to events can be given in cards made from recycled paper or a paper alternative.  

Don’t forget about the other packaging involved in your gift-giving. Try to recycle cardboard boxes, buy items with less packaging, and use biodegradable or recycled packing materials when you ship gifts.  Here's to hoping that delivery service has chosen to implement more energy efficient delivery trucks. 

By using these energy-efficient tips, you can protect the planet and spread even more holiday cheer by saving energy and money.