If you’ve noticed a higher-than-average electric bill lately, you’re not alone. Luckily, the worst of the Texas heat is over (for now), but with Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season soon, it’s easy to forget about all the potential extra energy costs.
How are energy costs affected by the holidays?
Holidays bring a number of reasons to use energy. Holiday lighting — both indoor and outdoor — can be a big one. Bumping up the thermostat to stay cozy is another. Big feasts and cookie baking lead to more dishes, which means more hot water … which can run up energy costs.
As you can see, it’s a case of a little bit here, a little bit there. The kilowatt hours (kWh) add up and could lead to surprise electricity usage amounts when your post-holiday bill comes.
5 tips for keeping energy costs down this Thanksgiving
To make Thanksgiving (and the rest of the holiday season) more energy-efficient, follow these five tips:
Tip #1: Monitor your thermostat
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving get-together, pay attention to your home’s temperature. What started out as a comfortable setting for your small family may feel hot and stuffy once more people arrive, the food starts cooking, etc. This is an opportunity to lower the thermostat temperature and keep energy costs down.
This tip also applies if you’re going to visit family or friends and will be gone most of the day or overnight. Since there’s no need to heat an empty house, you can lower your thermostat several degrees while you’re gone and save some power.
Tip #2: Use energy-efficient cooking methods
In 2019, Americans used around 347 gigawatts of electricity combined to roast their turkeys this Thanksgiving. (Yep, someone sat down and did the math!) That’s equivalent to the world’s nuclear power capacity in 2012, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. That surely racked up quite the electricity cost. We can assume 2022 will bring similar usage.
Okay, so most people have no other option but the oven for preparing a whole turkey. One way to save energy is to cook other dishes simultaneously with the turkey. But you can also shave off some energy costs over the holiday by using energy-efficient appliances to prepare other foods.
Here are examples of estimated electricity usage by appliance type, in kilowatts (kW). (Appliances vary. Check the wattage on your appliance to find exact figures. Note: 1000 Watts = 1 kW)
- Crockpot: .16 kW per hour
- Pressure cooker: .7 kW per hour
- Microwave: 1.0 kW per hour
- Air fryer: 1.5 kW per hour
- Electric stovetop (8” element): 2.1 kW per hour
- Electric oven: 2.15 kW per hour
As you can see, the oven and stovetop use the most energy. Crockpots and pressure cookers are both convenient options that also consume little electricity.
If you need a little inspiration, try these Thanksgiving recipes for pressure cookers and slow cookers.
Tip #3: Enjoy your evening by firelight
Doesn’t the thought of friends and family gathering around a crackling, warm fire sound lovely? Try turning off the lights, lowering the thermostat a degree or two, and serving Thanksgiving dessert by the fireplace. Sure, one night of this may not make a huge dent in your energy costs. But if it becomes a regular practice, the savings can start adding up.
Don’t have a fireplace? Try a candle-lit evening instead.
Tip #4: Let leftovers cool on the counter
Don’t rush to put all those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. Let them cool down to room temperature (or as close as is safe for the food). This prevents the food from releasing heat in the refrigerator and causing the appliance to work harder.
Check out more helpful fridge temperature tips from energy.gov to keep energy costs down here.
Tip #5: Put your dishwasher to work
Here’s an amazing fact: 61% of Americans argue over whether dishes should be pre-rinsed before being put in the dishwasher.
Let us save you at least one argument this Thanksgiving. Go ahead and scrape large pieces of food into the trash or disposal. But don’t pre-rinse. Dishwashers and dish detergents are built to tackle these types of messes efficiently. And you’ll conserve some hot water and energy by only hand-washing non-dishwasher-safe and bulky items.
Just make sure you have a full (but not crammed) load of dishes before you press ‘Start.’ This will get the most efficient wash and minimize energy costs.
Shop electricity plans for more ways to tame energy costs
Before you fill up on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie next week, head over to Everything Energy. You can shop and compare electricity plans and energy prices with ease. That way, you can check that off your holiday to-do list before the holidays even begin.