The holidays are right around the corner, and while celebrations may look different this year, Gulf Power wants to remind customers that extra cooking, activities and family members in your home can cause your energy bill to go up.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep holiday energy costs to a minimum. Here are some no-cost ways to save money and energy in the kitchen and be thankful for the savings on your November and December energy bills:

Cooking

  • Oven preheating is usually not required and wastes energy. When preheating is required, avoid preheating longer than necessary. Preheating takes about eight minutes.Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking is finished. Retained heat will complete the job.
  • Use the microwave whenever possible, it’s the most efficient way to cook or reheat food.
  • Don’t use your range or oven to heat the kitchen. It’s inefficient and can be a safety hazard.
  • Choose pots and pans that have wide flat bottoms that just cover the burner. They will absorb all the heat and cook food more evenly. Aluminum pans with flat bottoms, straight sides, and tight fitting lids are best for energy savings.

Dishwasher

  • Proper loading is important. Operate only when it is filled to capacity.
  • If manufacturer’s instructions permit, open the door of your dishwasher after the last rinse cycle to allow moisture to escape and the dishes to dry as they cool. Some units have a “power-saver switch” that automatically eliminates the drying cycle.

Refrigerator

  • Keep the refrigerator between 37º and 40º and the freezer setting at 0º.
  • Keep condenser coils clean. Vacuum the coils at least twice a year.
  • Make sure the door gasket seals tightly. To test, close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill. If you can slip the bill out easily, or, worse, if it falls out on its own, the door needs to be adjusted or the gasket needs to be replaced.
  • Let hot foods cool before placing them in the refrigerator.
  • Position the refrigerator away from heat sources. If the unit has back coils, position it at least 4″ from the wall.
  • Plan ahead and remove all ingredients at one time, and avoid keeping the refrigerator door open. Each time the door of a refrigerator or freezer is opened, its compressor has to run a bit longer to replace the cold air that spills out.
  • Think about getting rid of your extra refrigerator or freezer as they generally are inefficient and can cost two to three times more to operate per month.

Thermostat

  • If you’re having people over, make sure to adjust the thermostat before guests arrive.
  • If it’s cold outside, lower the thermostat a degree or two. The body heat from guests as well as the heat from cooking will raise your home’s temperature without having to run the heater.

Outside lighting

  • Examine all the lights and cords, and replace if they are damaged, frayed or have cracked wires.
  • Make sure your lights are rated for outdoor use. Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Only use lights that have fused plugs.
  • Gulf Power recommends using LED lighting because they use less power and don’t get hot, so they are a safer and more efficient choice for homeowners. While they may be more expensive, LED lights pay for themselves in the long run since they are cheaper to operate and last longer. Traditional lights such as the C-7 or C-9 lighting cost the most to operate, with each string costing up to $1 a day to power.
  • Make sure to have a plan for the placement of your holiday lighting so that no more than three strands are strung together unless using LEDs.
  • Arrange your decorations so that no outlet is overloaded and no cords will be pinched from going around corners. Be sure to plug lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. This type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent.
  • While decorating the outside of your home, never raise ladders, poles or other extended objects into or near power lines. If you are decorating an outside tree, check to make sure its limbs aren’t near power lines. Remember that no power line is ever safe to touch.
  • Lower your holiday energy use by putting your lights on a timer. Be sure to use a durable timer that is made to withstand the elements.

For additional energy saving tips visit GulfPower.com.