Home for the Holidays: Quick and Simple Fixes to Save Energy and Money

By Victoria Coleman, 
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Intern

Heating and cooling, water heating, washing and drying, and lighting account for nearly three-quarters of energy use in a residential building. Finding little ways to reduce your energy consumption in the house, can not only help the planet but also help your pocketbook. 

To keep your home cozy and warm this season, consider conducting a home energy audit, or assessment. Take this time to look both inside and outside the home to identify gaps and air leaks. Pay special attention to doors, windows, lighting fixtures, and when a building material changes. Finding and fixing these air leaks can potentially save 10%- 20% per year on energy costs. It can be a cloth or rubber door draft stopper or getting insulated curtains to help keep the warmth inside. If you have forced air, changing the filters monthly can prevent your system from working longer and harder. Similarly, turning down your heat 10 to 15 degrees while sleeping can help you save and reduce energy usage. Try not to peek in the oven while those holiday cookies bake—it can decrease the temperature of the oven by 25 degrees, making it work harder and longer to maintain the correct temperature for golden brown goodies. 

Hot water heaters are another drain. They generally account for around 15% of energy costs in a home. To reduce this number, try turning down the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees F and using less hot water, for example, by washing clothes in cold water. Decreasing water temperature reduces standby losses. Or, opt for more long-term savings by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads. 

With the rise of so many people working from home, comes the rise of energy vampires. These energy vampires are appliances that leach and drain electricity even while they are off or not in use. Energy vampires can include chargers, TVs, printers, and even microwaves. Try to group similar appliances on one power strip so that they can be easily be switched “off” when not in use, such as when you are asleep. If you are planning to purchase new electronics, be sure to look for ENERGY STAR appliances that are designed to be more energy-efficient. This is one of the easiest ways to reduce wasted energy and save money.

‘Tis the season for lights! Traditionally, lights account for around 10% of energy usage in homes. This year, opt for LED string lights. They are safer and last longer. Each holiday season they can save you up to $9, compared to incandescent lights; and they will last for years and years to come

Long-term fixes have upfront costs that generally pay for themselves later. While it’s not accessible to all, these might look like having a professional consultation and weatherizing the home. Spire Energy works to alleviate the energy burden of low-income households through its Low-Income Weatherization Program offered to St. Louis residents on fixed or limited incomes. Since we all have to be home for the holidays, let’s make them light, bright, and energy-efficient. Wishing you Happy Holidays and an energy-efficient New Year!