The hidden costs of Christmas

It can all add up

Spending more time indoors, cooking up festive treats, decking out rooms in fairy lights, charging new gadgets… it’s no wonder our energy use can soar over Christmas. And if you have people over, there are all the extra baths and showers, as well as someone who can’t resist turning up the thermostat to suit them. Like the aunt who’s always complaining about phantom drafts, or the teenage son who complains that it’s freezing while walking around barefoot in a T-shirt and shorts.

But, before you think about channelling your inner Scrooge, striking roast turkey off the menu by turning your oven off and plunging your tree into darkness, there are some simple fixes that will keep a lid on your spending over the festive season. First, swap your old fairy lights for modern LEDs. A 100-count string of old filament bulb lights runs at 40 watts, whereas a 70-count string of LED lights runs at just 4.8 watts.

Turn it down

You can also limit the amount of time your festive lights are actually on. Do you really need them illuminated when you’re not in the room to enjoy them? And is it necessary to leave them on for your neighbours to enjoy when you’re out? Turning them off when you’re not around is an easy save right there.

Dimmer switch

Turning off lights in rooms you’re not in is a no-brainer, but how about turning off a few in the rooms you are in, and relying on your decorations to light the room? You’re not just saving money, you’re creating ATMOSPHERE! Well, that’s what you can tell Granny when she complains there’s not enough light to see her Scrabble letters.

Inspect a gadget

Another way to save energy is to identify those gadgets that use energy even when you’re not using them. Things like TVs, DVD players, radios, some phone chargers, and other electrical items that quietly carry on using power when they’re not in use. If you know some of them are going to be redundant over the holidays – like the computer or printer you only use for work – then switch these off properly or pull out the plug, rather than leaving them on standby mode. The same applies if you’re going away over the holidays. Do a final sweep of the house and make sure that nothing’s going to be racking up your energy bill while you’re not there.

Cooking a turkey

Making a few changes to your cooking habits over Christmas can also make a big difference to your energy spend. Keep lids on pots, peek at your bakes through the glass of the oven door rather than opening up the oven, cook more than one thing at a time, and boil the exact amount of water you need rather than filling the whole kettle. All these little tweaks will save you money in the long run.

Work smarter, not harder

Of course, a smart meter is your best friend when it comes to saving energy at Christmas, or at any other time of year for that matter. First of all, it measures exactly how much energy you’re using. So you know you’re not going to get any nasty surprises in your bill or risk overpaying for your energy because of estimated bills. Second, it sends the information about your energy use wirelessly to your energy provider, so you don’t have to read the meter and tell them the info yourself. With all the million other things to do at Christmas, it’s a welcome relief not having to find time to read the meter as well!

But the biggest help a smart meter can give you over the holidays comes from the ‘In-Home Display’ that comes as part of the installation. This is a screen like a little tablet, that displays your energy use in pretty much real time. So, you can see how much electricity your home is using in kilowatts, and how much this is costing you in pounds and pence. The reason the In-Home Display is so useful is because you can see the impact that turning off lights, or turning down the thermostat has on your energy spend.

Having a smart meter’s In-Home Display visible in the house also has the effect of reminding those in your home who don’t pay the bills (teenage kids, we’re looking at you) that all their paused computer games, needlessly illuminated lights and super-hot deep baths, do actually cost money!

When it comes to saving energy (and therefore money) over the holidays, smart meters might just be the best Christmas present you could ever give yourself. And as an added bonus, a smart meter from First Utility - from the meter itself to the installation - is a present that keeps on giving.

Interested in having a smart meter installed in your home or want to learn more about them? Take a look here.

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