Holiday Energy Saving TipsTo help reduce your carbon footprint without diminishing your festive spirit here are some tips for enjoying a greener holiday season.
Nothing conveys charming holiday nostalgia plus the invaluable expression of personal thoughtfulness, effort, and heartfelt attention to detail like handmade gift wrap. You can create beautiful packages by recycling materials like newspaper and twine and making your own greeting cards from scraps of colorful paper that would otherwise be tossed into the trash. You can also decorate your gifts with sprigs of greenery like holly or hemlock to give them an organically beautiful and totally unique touch.
If you usually have to commute quite a distance to do your holiday shopping you might want to save energy - both in terms of fighting the crowds and puttering around in your vehicle burning gas in traffic - by shopping online. Or totally shrink your carbon footprint by giving gifts of donations to worthy charities in the name of the friend or other loved one. Give them a handwritten card explaining that in their honor you supported the philanthropic organization for a gift that keeps on giving in a sustainable way to make a real difference in the lives of others.
When planning holiday meals consider using locally sourced ingredients. Many small organic farms sell their produce through local farmer's markets and some grocery stores stock local produce and identify it as such. You can also purchase free range organic turkey for a tastier bird. You may pay slightly more for this kind of farm-to-table treat but you will be repaid with compliments for serving dishes prepared from more naturally delicious ingredients and you will also be doing your part to support local farmers. By keeping agriculture close to home and buying organic you can substantially reduce the adverse environmental impact of farming while also doing something good for your health.
Lights and Decorations:
Put holiday lights on a timer so that you only burn them for a short time each day, and rather than relying mostly on electrical decorations consider having a weekend gathering to make your own from scratch. Invite friends, serve some hot apple cider or eggnog, and make everything from gingerbread houses to garlands of popcorn and cranberries. Everyone will relish the camaraderie and you'll all get the great satisfaction of making your own decorations the old fashioned way.
Get Cash Back for Saving EnergyEveryone loves a good holiday shopping bargain, and now it's possible to get one that will continue to pay you back year after year. That's because 8,500 customers who purchase a programmable thermostat or order a heating system checkup can receive a $30 rebate - and 1,400 people who buy an energy saving tankless water heater will get a $250 rebate.
• Programmable thermostats automatically keep homes at the optimum level for both warmth and toasty comfort all winter long - and they continue to balance your energy savings during the air conditioned summer months. If you do not already have a programmable thermostat it is highly recommended that your old gadget be replaced. The cost to do so will typically be recouped in lower utility bills within one season, and with the additional rebate that return on investment is even higher.
• A heating system checkup is a procedure performed by a licensed and trained contractor to evaluate the overall performance of your heating system. These checkups not only ensure safety (by making sure that no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are leaking from older units or that there are any potential fire hazards present) but they also identify practical ways to save heat energy and reduce heating costs.
• A new water heater can keep the whole family supplied with hot water and also delivers water that is heated faster and more efficiently while incidental heat loss is minimized. To really maximize savings both now and for years to come, opt for a high-tech tankless model. These appliances heat water on demand whenever you turn on a hot water tap - so they save money and energy by not heating water that you don't use. That reduces your carbon footprint without compromising comfort and convenience, and tankless heaters are highly recommended for those who want to "go green" and take full advantage of the most state of the art technologies.
The rebates are being offered by Washington Gas to natural gas customers in Virginia, and will be delivered in the form of an American Express debit card that is pre-loaded with the cash equivalent of the rebate. For details and a full description of this timely offer and the eligibility requirements visit the website washingtongasrebates.com - but do so soon because rebates like these will not last long.
Natural Gas: A Natural ChoiceThose who have had to eat crackers for dinner or take an icy shower after losing electricity will know that the question of home heating is a serious one. A thoughtful consideration of your options is essential. One key question to ask yourself: What about natural gas?
As hinted above, one of the benefits of gas is obvious: When the power goes out, you'll be eating a proper dinner and taking a hot shower. But even outside such once-in-a-blue-moon occasions, gas can be an excellent choice for a family of any size. Here are a few reasons:
• Heating your home cheaply and efficiently. Natural gas heating systems can be remarkably efficient. Gas furnaces and boilers can clock in at 95% to 99% efficiency, beating out oil. An Energy Star gas furnace must have an efficiency rating of 90%, higher than the oil furnace's 83%. And CEE Tier furnaces, rated by the Consortium on Energy Efficiency, are only available in gas. If you heat your home with oil, gas might well give your wallet a little relief; not only due to greater efficiency but also because oil prices will inevitably jump.
• Supplying abundant and eco-friendly hot water. As with home heating, the most efficient water heaters available run on gas. "Electric water heaters are not recommended," according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, because electric resistance is an expensive and inefficient way to heat. Using an indirect method of heating water that capitalizes on the heat of your boiler is a great way to make your water-heating apparatus even more efficient and affordable. Additionally, going with gas means less environmental damage, since coal is used to create most U.S. electricity supplies.
• Cooking like the world's great chefs. Gas ranges are preferred around the world over by chefs of every stripe, as they allow for precise and instantaneous temperature control. "I've been in this business for more than 20 years and I don't know of any professional chefs that prefer using electric," says Brian Mattingly, executive chef at the California Culinary Academy. With a gas stove fitted with a proper ventilating hood, you'll be cooking gourmet in no time.
As you can see, it's worth considering a switch to gas, one of the cleanest-burning fossil fuels. And I haven't even mentioned the gas fireplaces that allow you to create a cozy hearth with the flip of a switch.