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How to Monitor Your Energy Use During the Holidays

Posted December 1, 2017 | By Direct Energy Business

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holiday energy use 

Around the holidays, many businesses will see an increase in their electricity and natural gas usage. In some cases, you may find yourself scratching your head, wondering what on earth is causing the increase! In others, you may be able to reduce energy usage with a few simple tips. Monitoring your holiday energy use will help you understand where the energy is going and potentially make better choices to reduce your energy expenses throughout this final season of the year.

Why Your Energy Bill Goes Up in December

As you study your energy usage from past years, you may find that you experience a sharp increase in energy usage throughout December. There are several sneaky little holiday additions that could be the culprit!

The weather

 If you live in an area where the weather grows significantly colder during December, turning on the heat can increase your energy bill substantially--especially if you've enjoyed milder temperatures throughout the fall. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to increase the cool December air's impact on your energy use.

  • Conduct maintenance on your HVAC unit. A well-maintained unit is considerably more energy-efficient than a unit that is struggling to put out the warm air you need. 
  • Change your filters. Doing this regularly will ensure that your unit doesn't have to work as hard to produce warm air and may even extend the life of your unit. 
  • Turn down the thermostat. A difference of just a degree can save as much as 3% on your energy bill. Dropping the thermostat a couple of degrees can make a big difference in your energy bill without making people uncomfortable. 
  • Install smart thermostats throughout the building. Not only will they ensure greater comfort for every member of your staff, they can be programmed to reduce temperatures at night and on the weekend, when no one is in the building. Your smart thermostat can also be programmed to reduce the temperature throughout the building over the holidays, when no one is working. 
  • Take a look at your doors and windows and check for drafts. Make sure that any cracks are sealed to help keep your warm air inside, where it belongs.

Holiday lights

Does your business decorate for the holidays? The holiday light show may create feelings of goodwill with your customers and bring holiday cheer to your employees, but it can also significantly raise your energy bill for the month. If you're worried about your energy bill, consider scaling back on the light show and using decorations that are visible in the daytime, instead. You can also use LED bulbs to create a more energy-efficient light show. Fiber optic decorations can also offer increased energy efficiency. 

Regular lights

In December, the nights are longer than at any other time of the year. In many businesses, that means employees are coming in before it's light outside and leaving after it's gotten dark--and that makes it harder to take advantage of natural light sources. Fortunately, you can still experience energy savings in spite of the need to use artificial lighting.

  • Check your bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs can make a big difference in your energy usage throughout the month.
  • Take advantage of natural light when you have it. Opening the blinds and letting in the light can help with both lighting and heating, especially in small offices.
  • Install motion sensors in little-used rooms, including conference rooms and bathrooms, to ensure that when no one is in the room, you aren't paying to light them. 

Appliances

Does your business conduct a fancy holiday dinner or party, with the meal getting cooked in your office kitchen? What about holiday fliers or posters about events? If you're putting up a lot of paperwork about upcoming holiday events, you're also running your printers--and office printers, especially those that aren't Energy Star certified can use a lot of energy. Consider offering virtual reminders about upcoming events instead. 

 


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  • Monitoring Your Energy Usage

    Carefully monitoring your energy use through the month will give you a better picture of where you can save--not to mention letting you know where your energy is going. An energy audit can offer better insight into your energy usage at any time of the year, but there are several things you can do right now to see how your energy usage compares.

    Check it against November and January. Is your energy bill significantly higher in December than it is during the neighboring months? If so, chances are, there are some substantial holiday energy drains on your bill. Take the time to examine those differences to see where you're wasting energy--and what changes you can make for next year.

    Compare this year's bill to last year's. Be sure to consider both the price you're paying for energy and the amount of energy you're using. Are you using more energy this year than you have in years past? If so, does it match the growth of your business as a whole, or are you using more energy without seeing equal growth?

    Conduct an energy audit. This is a great time of year to create an energy-efficiency plan that will help your business save plenty of money on its energy expenses in the upcoming year. Set aside some time in your busy holiday schedule for an audit--either a professional audit or a DIY audit will do, though the DIY audit may be more budget-efficient at this time of year--to see how you can decrease your energy use this year and in the future.

    Additional Ways to Save Energy

    Once you know where your energy is going, you can go a long way toward cutting down your overall energy use. There are, however, several small strategies you can implement to ensure that you get full energy savings this holiday season.

    Make sure everything gets turned off over the holidays. There's no sense in leaving computers turned on and running when no one is going to be in the building for several days, especially if you're shutting down for multiple days. All the lights should be turned off and office equipment shut down while no one is in the building. 

    Check empty offices. No, you don't need to go poking around your coworkers' things; but you can check to make sure that they've turned off their computer, monitor, and desk lights while they're on vacation. 

    Check your decorations. Did you know that Christmas decorations can also come with an Energy Star logo? Look for decorations with this important recommendation to decrease your energy usage throughout the holiday season. Hint: inflatable holiday displays will suck down energy for little reward. LED lights, on the other hand, are much more energy-efficient.

    Take advantage of body heat. Hosting a holiday event in the office? Chances are, you can drop the thermostat a few degrees. Extra bodies produce extra heat with no need to add to your energy bill. 

     

    This holiday season, your energy footprint doesn't have to grow substantially in order for you to ring in the season with the appropriate amount of cheer. By carefully monitoring your energy usage, you can take steps to improve your energy consumption and ensure that you get 2018 off to a great start--all without dampening the fun of the season. 

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