Thanksgiving can take a lot of energy. In my family, it’s a big day. Aunts and uncles from near and far come to my parents’ house, bringing with them a host of cousins. Traditionally, we spent the whole day cooking, eating, playing music and games, and watching football and movies on TV. There are enough of us that just about everything that uses electricity got turned on and used. In those years, my parents looked at their electric bill the next month, and they couldn’t help but sigh. Last year, though, they started taking a few steps to lessen the impact of the holidays on their bill by using these simple tips:
Be Conscious of Your Refrigerator Usage
Refrigerators can be energy-intensive appliances, especially when they need to work overtime to cool back down after losing lots of cold air. To be sure that you’re not sending your electricity bill through the roof as you’re preparing your feast, take a little extra caution with your refrigerator. Make sure the seals on the fridge and freezer close tightly. Weak seals can mean leaks, which mean your fridge has to work harder to stay cool. Also, when taking out ingredients to prepare your meal, remove them all at once. The longer you leave the refrigerator door open, the more cold air will escape. Finally, wait until your leftovers have cooled off before placing them in the refrigerator. This ensures that your fridge doesn’t need to use extra energy to cool your food down to room temperature.
Lower the Thermostat
Before everybody arrives, lower the thermostat a few degrees. This should help you save on your electric bill without anyone noticing. Once your guests show up, the excess heat their bodies shed will warm the house right back up. Of course, spending all day with the stove and oven on to cook your turkey and sides will bring your home’s temperature up as well.
Keep an Eye on Your Oven
When you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be using your oven for an extended period of time. However, by keeping a few simple practices in mind, you’ll be able to cook all day without worrying about an increase in your energy bill. For instance, if you cook side dishes at the same time as the turkey, you’ll save both time and energy. Also, if you can, use the oven’s convection settings and ceramic or glass pans to increase its cooking efficiency, and lower your energy usage. Avoid opening the oven door as much as possible to prevent heat from escaping. Finally, when it’s time to clean up, you can save energy by cleaning the oven by hand instead of using the oven’s self-cleaning feature.
Go Play Outside
I feel like I’m turning into my father when I say this, but turn off the TV and go play outside! Make it a new family tradition to head outdoors and toss the football. If there’s enough of you, divide into teams and see who can win the big (family) game. If you’re not really into Thanksgiving football, there’s always soccer, badminton, sack races, or a simple Frisbee toss. Not only does this bring the family together in good-hearted competition, it also means less time spent using electricity to power the TV and stereo. Whoever’s cooking the turkey will likely appreciate a little space in the kitchen, and, of course, all that running around is sure to work up an appetite.
There’s more than one way to get outside, too. If you live in a pedestrian-friendly area, Thanksgiving often has ideal weather for a crisp, fall walk. Another thing to do is go to your high school or town’s annual Thanksgiving Day game. Where I grew up, Thanksgiving means we play our age-old rivals the next town south. We win, at least in spirit, every year. Hike!
Light a Fire
For families who have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, the crackle and warmth of a tended hearth are an excellent way to keep out the November chill. The immediate benefit, of course, is a much lower heating bill, or electric bill if you use electric heat. In fact, this tip is good all winter long. Burning wood is an excellent way to heat your house while reducing your reliance on the electricity grid and creating a cozy atmosphere. It’s particularly nice on Thanksgiving because it gives the family a central place to gather as you catch up on each other’s lives, share old memories, and swap funny stories from the past year.
Switch to a Fixed-Rate Energy Plan
Thanksgiving is a family day; it shouldn’t be a time to worry about energy prices. Still, it can be an expensive day for your electricity bill. Thanksgiving is a national holiday, which means that it isn’t just your family turning on all the appliances and cooking all day, it’s every family. As it turns out, the more electricity is needed at one time, the more it costs to produce. This is why electricity costs more in the evening than it does during the middle of the night. It also explains seasonal price variation, or why electricity costs more during the winter when lights, appliances, and electric heaters are on than it does during the spring or fall. All said, on Thanksgiving, electricity can be more expensive than on days with lower power consumption.
If you’d rather spend time with your family than worry about the price of your electricity, consider switching to a fixed-rate energy plan. With fixed-rate energy plans, the rate you pay for electricity is determined ahead of time, when you sign your agreement with your electric supplier. The rates are based on the projected average cost of electricity for the duration of your agreement. So, even on high-use days like Thanksgiving, your rate will always stay the same.
Now when my parents think of Thanksgiving, electricity usage is one of the last things on their minds. Instead, Thanksgiving’s about seeing my aunts, uncles, and cousins, playing cards at the table or football in the yard. It’s about the turkey and my grandmother’s southern squash recipes, the potatoes and the cranberry sauce. When the time comes for me to take on the hosting duties, that’s the way I want to spend my Thanksgivings: thinking about family, not the price of electricity. With a fixed-rate energy plan, that’s exactly what happens.
Family’s important to us at Liberty Power, and we love Thanksgiving because, above all, it is a family holiday. We hope you and your loved ones are able to get together and enjoy this feast as a family, looking back on the bounties the year has brought you. As you look forward to the next year, you may wish to consider switching to a fixed-rate energy plan. We can help you get started today.
Photo Credit: Jamie