The jack-o-lanterns are gone, and it’s almost that time of the year for turkeys, tinsel, and Times Square ball drops. Plus, of course, holiday gatherings. Whether you are a seasoned host or a relative newbie, entertaining during the holiday season should be energizing, instead of draining your home’s energy.
When it comes to holiday hosting, it can be tempting to go big. But check out some easy ideas below to make sure your energy use doesn’t, so that you maintain a sustainable, eco-friendly home all season long!
Deck the halls with eco-friendly decorations
Go with LED, fiber optic lighting, or smart home products
Make your home shine for the holidays with LED and fiber optic options for lights and decorations that stay on for long periods of time. The cost of running a string of holiday lights with standard incandescent bulbs can be 45 times MORE than LED lights. What’s more, LEDs last up to 25,000 to 50,000 hours.[2,3] That’s a long time before you have to change out any lights! If you have a smart home system, you can also explore smart light bulbs that change colors or dim at your preferred settings.
Enjoy traditional decorations and candles
For zero energy consumption and holiday cheer, you can’t go wrong with tinsel or other festive decorations and ornaments. You can save these for next year, too, and honor your efforts to reduce and reuse! Candles are a great option to set the mood, especially if you use colored votive holders. (But do take care with candle safety, especially if there are children in the house.)
More food, less appliance use
What’s a holiday gathering without lots of food? Even when you’re not hosting a party, cooking consumes about 4.5% of the energy used to power a home. So being energy-efficient while cooking lots of dishes for holiday guests is a major opportunity to lower energy costs.
The smaller the better (appliances and cookware)
It takes less energy to heat smaller appliances or pots. Try the microwave, toaster oven, or crock pot to cook or reheat your party dishes instead of the oven or stovetop.
Have the oven do double (or triple) duty
Save the oven for larger recipes, and make the most of it by cooking more than one recipe at a time. This will shorten how long your oven stays on (plus earn you bragging rights as multitasking master chef). Cooking food in glass or ceramic materials, which retain heat better, means you can even reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and still get the cooking done.
Don’t let the heat escape
Trap heat in the pot or in the oven to help food cook faster and to prevent energy loss. That means keeping the lid on pots and no peeking in ovens! Each time the oven is opened, the temperature inside can drop as much as 25 degrees, making the oven work harder.  Instead, turn on the oven light and look through the oven window. A timer will help too—so you can set it and forget it!
Plan more, drive less
A little advanced planning and list making can streamline the inevitable shopping trips and errands. (And hopefully cut down those frantic last-minute trips that drain both your energy and your car’s gasoline.)
Turn the party up, and the thermostat down
When it’s party time, take advantage and turn down the thermostat! Between the cooking heat and your guests’ body heat, your home will be plenty warm at no cost to you. Too warm? Use fans to keep the air flowing comfortably rather than running your HVAC.
Think gifts that keep on giving (to our planet)
What’s better than making loved ones happy and helping our planet at the same time? When purchasing electronics, appliances, or even computer and office equipment as gifts, go for Energy Star-labeled options that are rated for energy efficiency. Maybe consider gifts that don’t require electricity or batteries. Better yet, try rechargeable batteries and chargers as stocking stuffers for eco-conscious loved ones!
Remember what’s important—enjoying yourself and loved ones, sustainably
Hosting the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. A little planning and advanced preparation will go a long way towards shortening your to-do list on party day, so you can make use of the time to connect with loved ones.
And don’t forget, energy-efficient entertaining is one way to manage your carbon footprint, not to mention your end-of-year budget. Come January, you’ll be enjoying the memories of your gatherings, plus the gift you gave the planet and yourself—in energy savings.
 Energy.gov. Tips to save energy during the holidays. Retrieved November 13, 2017 from https://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-save-energy-during-holidays
 Taub, Erica A. (February 11, 2009). How long did you say that bulb would last? New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/how-long-did-you-say-that-bulb-will-last/
 Energy.gov. How energy-efficient light bulbs compare with traditional incandescents. Retrieved November 13, 2017 from https://energy.gov/energysaver/how-energy-efficient-light-bulbs-compare-traditional-incandescents
 Energy.gov. Energy-efficient cooking for winter. Retrieved November 13, 2017 from https://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-cooking-winter