red and green holiday table centerpiece

Cold winter nights, warm memories, and lots of holiday spirit in between–it’s surely the most wonderful time of the year!

Holiday cheer surrounds us everywhere we turn, whether that be the light-adorned homes that brighten our day, the smiles from passersby as we shop for gifts, or the beautiful cards we receive from friends and family sharing their festive wishes.

As we enjoy this season, we have some other ways you can spruce up your holidays. The holidays are synonymous with cooking, entertaining, shopping, and traveling—all of which can be done with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. Acting sustainably takes very minimal effort and often a simple change in mindset is all it takes to act more consciously.

We have put together the following list of tips in sustainability to keep your spirits bright and your community happy all season long! These suggestions will not only make you a star host but make your life easier. Stay tuned for some tips to have you jingling all the way through the next few weeks!

Shop Locally

Shopping is typically one of the top activities during the holiday season. And whether it be for presents or food, one thing is for sure: we are often hustling and bustling through the stores!

There are many great benefits to shopping locally. Locally produced products not only support the local economy and businesses in your community but require shorter supply chains, meaning less energy is required to move the product from where it’s produced to your house. Even better, if you can physically visit the stores and get all your shopping done close by, that saves you time, energy, and fuel!

Plan for How Much You Cook

There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies or all the fixings for a holiday meal. Cooking brings us together and embodies the essence of the holidays. However, we all know that cooking for a large group can expend a lot of energy, money, and time so it’s important to take some key steps prior to your meal to prevent waste.

Prior to your cooking kick-off, try to get an accurate guest count. Account for how much food you may need but try not to overbuy. If you know you will be sending leftovers with your guests or keeping some for your family, try to approximate the additional quantities you will need without going overboard.

This is also when energy-efficient appliances are particularly useful. Try using a crockpot and incorporating dishes that do not require heat. While it is important to check your dishes as they are cooking, try to minimize the number of times you open and close your appliances. Ovens often have lights that allow you to check on the progress without opening the door. This will keep the heat where it needs to be and prevent your kitchen gear from expending unnecessary amounts of energy.

Turn Down the Heat

Turn down the heat a degree or two to save on energy. Guests will most likely be coming in and out, so no need to waste heat that will be leaving the building. Neither you nor your guests will likely notice any difference in temperature, but your energy bill will certainly thank you. Even a degree or two can make quite a difference when it comes to your energy usage. And having guests gathered, all dressed in warm holiday attire will most likely increase the heat in your space as well. You may even get the question, “Can someone open a window?”

Use Real Dishes and Reusable Containers

Waiting for the right time to break out the fine dinnerware–this is it!

With a large group, eliminating the use of paper products can seriously cut down on extra waste. It’s not only beneficial for the environment but also gives you the opportunity to use items you wouldn’t on a regular basis.

And for leftovers? Reusable containers are your best bet! Ask your guests to bring containers if you know they’ll be leaving with leftovers. They will be thrilled to know that they get to have your delicious meal another night, and more importantly, won’t have to cook!

Let Guests Know Where Recycling Containers are Located

Guests often ask, “Where is your trashcan?” and “Do you recycle?” Letting your guests know where they can locate your trashcan and recycling bin items eliminates any confusion and subtly encourages them to recycle. And as a bonus, you won’t have to comb through to separate your items after guests leave!

Make Arrangements Prior to Traveling

Before you pack up that suitcase and hop on a plane, be sure to make a few arrangements for your home. Remember to adjust your thermostat temperature and unplug devices and appliances that don’t need power while you’re away. If you have a programmable thermostat that operates from your phone, you can even turn it back on a few hours prior to arriving home.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to around 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.” When you travel, follow these guidelines, and lower the temperature by a few degrees.

Reuse Your Gift-Wrapping Supplies

It can be tempting to purchase the entire aisle of gift wrap supplies at your favorite stores. However, both the environment and your wallet take a hit. Try thinking more sustainably this holiday season by recycling gift paper and reusing gift boxes/bags.

This is a perfect opportunity to let your creativity run wild—use items such as twine, construction paper, or other decorative items to embellish your packages and make them stand out.

Be Jolly and Sustainable!

We hope these suggestions have you ready to take on this holiday season! With some simple steps, you can enjoy this merry time of year and feel good about your sustainable contributions. Oh, what fun it is to enjoy this time with family and friends embracing all this season has to offer. Happy Holidays!

To learn more about UGI EnergyLink, check out our website.