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6 simple tips to help you get through the holidays without spending a fortune on energy

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Throw away your Christmas lights from the 1990s.
Throw away your Christmas lights from the 1990s. ANDREW GOMBERT / EPA

If you have family coming into town, are putting Christmas lights up on your house, or live in a place that’s cold, your energy bill might be heading toward the perfect storm this month. But Mark Friedgan, COO and co-founder of Eligo Energy, has some tips to make your holiday season energy efficient and cost effective.

1. Throw away those old holiday lights.

If you are still using incandescent light bulbs to decorate your home, you should probably go out and get yourself some LED lights.

“LED bulbs have gotten better and cheaper,’’ Friedgan said. “It makes sense to get new strings with LEDs. You can get much fancier lights that have smart controllers so lights aren’t just on because of a timer. It can make a significant difference.’’

2. Ask for energy efficient holiday gifts.

“Ask for something like a NEST thermostat or a smart sprinkler controller that knows what the weather is and what the forecast is so they can control systems in your house,’’ Friedgan said.

Installing new systems like these can reduce energy consumption, especially when you aren’t home, or even use energy at cheaper times (rates can fluctuate weekly or even daily), therefore lowering the cost of your bill each month.

3. Make sure things go back to normal once your guests leave.

If you have family or friends staying with you this holiday season, they might be using rooms in your house that normally don’t get much foot traffic.

“You will probably reprogram the thermostat or open up vents in those rooms,’’ Friedgan said. “We forget to set that stuff back [once the guests leave].’’ This can end up being very costly and alter your normal bill, wasting energy in rooms people no longer inhabit. So “put things back the way they were before the holidays,’’ he suggests.

4. Be wary of new electronics.

New electronics might not be the most energy efficient. “People just look for the shiny things and not the energy use,’’ Friedgan said.

When you buy things or receive gifts look to see if the product has an Energy Star label or how much energy it will use – then you can be at least prepared if your bill goes up.

5. Don’t overheat the house.

“Depending on the type of heat that you have, we often overheat the house,’’ Friedgan said. “It’s really quite wasteful because you will have to open up the windows and use up the heat you accumulated.’’

You might not want to turn off the heat completely, as no one wants a burst pipe, but you could turn it down or have it on a cycle so that it is warmest when you are home and never hot enough that you have to open up a window.

6. Look for air leaks.

There might be areas in your house where cold air from the outside is getting in – therefore making a need for more heat.

“Use ceiling tape and replace gaskets around the doors,’’ Friedgan said. “That can waste a lot of energy. You are then warming up the street!’’

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