With the end of October rapidly approaching, families around the country are busy planning for Halloween. One of the last things on your mind as you decorate the house, look for Halloween costumes, and plan your parties, is likely to be your monthly energy bill.
But you’ll certainly take notice if a monstrous electricity bill comes back to haunt you in November. With shorter days and colder weather, you should take precautions to ensure that your Halloween is all treats and no trick when it comes to energy.
Here are some energy drains you may not be aware of as well as a few not-so-scary energy saving solutions for your family during the upcoming holiday season and throughout the year.
Exorcise phantom loads: Even when your electronic devices and appliances are turned off, many can continue to draw power if they’re plugged in. These are commonly called “phantom loads” or “vampire” appliances. According to a study by Cornell University, the average home’s unused electronic devices draw up to $200 of electricity annually! During the holiday season, phantom loads may be even more problematic because of the extra decorations we plug in to get into the spirit. To mitigate phantom loads, unplug electronics when they’re not in use. You can also plug decorations and other electronics into a smart power strip that will stop idle currents from occurring and protect against power surges too. Buying Energy-Star appliances will also help you cut power consumption.
Insulate your home like you’d wrap a mummy: The weather may not be as frightful in October as it will be in the colder months of winter, but the temperatures outside may still be cool enough to send a chill through a poorly insulated home. Sealing vulnerable locations around your home can drastically impact your energy efficiency. Caulk around your windows and cover the glass, pad the bottoms of your doors and insulate your hot water heater. While your attic may seem creepy, don’t forget to check how much insulation you have up there! With these simple tricks, you won’t have to crank up your thermostat and burn more fuel to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the house during the cool days and nights ahead. If you aren’t sure where to begin, consider paying for an energy audit of your home. The upfront costs are minimal (and often subsidized by your state or local utility) and you’ll make up the value in your energy bills.
Dig a grave for your inefficient decorations: Every neighborhood has one—the homeowner who goes all out and puts inflatable ghosts, ghouls and goblins throughout their front yard for Halloween (it’s OK to admit if that’s you). Or maybe they’re running string lights through their bushes. Maybe they even have flashlights running nonstop to illuminate jack-o-lanterns. One thing is for sure—decorations can be surprisingly deep energy pits. A 2014 study estimated the monthly cost of holiday decorations at over $50 per household. If you want to stay in the running for spookiest home without a scary electric bill, consider some energy-free ideas—skeletons, graves and cobwebs should do the trick. If you want some shock-free mood lighting, replace incandescent string lights with more efficient LED lighting, and to save even more, consider updating your year-round outdoor lighting to LEDs. You can also switch the battery-operated flashlights around your home with shakable or crank-powered alternatives. And if you’re the neighbor with an affinity for inflatable decorations, be sure to unplug them when they’re not in use.
If there was a way to harness the energy of the millions of children on their post-Halloween sugar rushes, the upcoming holiday season might not be such a big impact on our utility bills. Fortunately, if you follow these simple steps your energy use throughout the year won’t be such a fright.