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Five Steps to a Low Energy Christmas

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 5 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Christmas Energy Low-energy Presents

If you’re a keen energy saver, you’re hardly likely to want to throw principle and all that hard work out of the window at Christmas, but it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to swim against an irresistible tide. It is possible to have a low energy Christmas, but it does take a bit of careful preparation and forethought. Here’s our five step plan to help you have a great time, without sending the meter spinning like a top.

1. Plan Your Presents

We all like to be the giver of the perfect present, probably about as much as we like to receive one from someone else. Coming up with that ideal gift always requires a bit of thought – especially if you’re planning to spread your festive cheer as part of a low energy Christmas. We’re surrounded by so many electrical devices that it sometimes seems as if everything, but everything needs a handy power socket, or a set of batteries to work, but it is still possible to buy some great gifts that won’t double the recipients’ carbon footprints by Boxing Day!

Try avoiding energy-hungry devices, particularly in the light of recent studies which have revealed what a huge contribution to the collective UK energy usage games consoles and the like make, and think about fun items that can help save energy instead. Between the huge number of wind up gadgets, LED torches, instant sleep buttons for PCs and peripherals, energy meters, low-energy light bulbs and even good, old-fashioned candles, you shouldn’t find your choice too limited!

2. Christmas Lights

Not much says ‘Christmas’ quite like some pretty coloured lights to brighten up the dull days and dark nights of winter. Cheering yourself up, however, doesn’t need to cost the earth, nor add to your energy bills, unless of course, your Christmas absolutely has to include lighting up the side of your house with sufficient bulbs to rival Blackpool Illuminations!

LEDs have revolutionised the world of low energy Christmas lights, and there are even some outdoor, solar-powered varieties now available that are designed to recharge in even the weakest of December sunlight. Although they don’t come cheap, they’ll be an investment for many years to come.

3. Stocking the Larder

The Christmas fare is such an important part of the whole festivities, and there’s no better time in the whole year to be thinking about those ‘food miles’ than when you’re planning the shopping list.

For a low-energy larder, you certainly don’t have to be denied your favourites, just try to look for locally produced food where you can and for the kinds of things that only a supermarket can offer, you might like to think about having the whole lot delivered. If you can co-ordinate your order with a few of the rest of your local community, having just the one van making a single trip to your particular area will mean you can lower that energy usage even more.

4. Energy Use on the Day

On the big day itself, there are ways to keep your energy use down without having to forego any of the fun. Even if Christmas means that you’re cooking for a big family, hordes of friends and a whole raft of long-lost relatives, with a bit of careful planning, you should still be able to do something to save energy.

If you’ve got a houseful due to be coming, here’s an ideal opportunity to turn that thermostat down a degree or two; the free body heat of all those guest – not to mention the hours of cooking time for that massive turkey – should more than compensate for a bit less central heating. Don’t overdo it, mind; you wouldn’t want to be thought of as a bad host!

Another useful tip is to adopt an energy-saving approach to cooking; electric hobs and ovens, for instance, often hold heat for long after the power’s off, so get the timing right, and you can make use of this to save electricity by switching off for the last few minutes. It’s also, worth remembering that if there’s ever a time to only boil the water you need in your kettle, with all those cups of tea and coffees to make over the day, now is it!

5.Waste Not, Want Not

Finally, once it’s all over, don’t forget to recycle what you can and help save energy and reduce your carbon footprint by helping conserve resources.

Facilities vary from place to place, but few parts of the UK are without the option to recycle your old Christmas cards, bottles and cans. Some councils will take other items too, such as Christmas trees and wrapping paper – though not all of the glittery or metallic kinds are suitable so it’s important to check. Food scraps can be composted or put out for the birds and many charity shops – especially small local ones – will be glad of any unwanted gifts you may have been given.

Have a very merry low energy Christmas, and a happy carbon-counted New Year!

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