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Be Thankful for Energy Savings this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner photo

If you have ever received your utility bill for the month of November and been startled by a spike in your regular payment, you’re not alone. Thanksgiving celebrations can have a noticeable impact on your home energy bill. While unavoidable expenses come with hosting a crowd, we’ve done our best to provide the best ideas for keeping the holiday from breaking your budget. Making these small changes to your family gathering may help offset some of this year’s soaring food costs.

Set the Thermostat to “Party Mode”

Our Florida weather is unpredictable throughout November, which makes it challenging to plan. So, we’ll give you advice for either end of the temperature spectrum. If it is chilly outside, keep in mind that many warm bodies inside your home will automatically raise the temperature. So, drop your heater down a couple of degrees before guests arrive so that you aren’t paying to make everyone uncomfortably hot. Alternatively, suppose it is warm enough outside. In that case, you may find that opening all windows and using ceiling fans instead of your cooling system is a viable option. Letting in fresh air is particularly appealing this year as the pandemic continues to linger, so if the weather cooperates, this is a great idea to consider all around.

Respect Your Refrigerator

It’s entirely possible that our refrigerator doors open and close more on Thanksgiving Day than they do over the course of a typical month. Every time the door is opened, the temperature inside rises as all the cool air escapes – and then the compressor must kick on to lower it again. These small spurts of electricity can add up to a sizeable chunk of your utility bill. To use your fridge more efficiently, be sure to THINK before you reach for the handle. Figure out all of the ingredients you’ll need from inside before you open the door so that you won’t have to go back in and grab them a few minutes later.

Another burden on refrigerators is when leftovers are placed inside before they’ve been allowed to cool. After your Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to let leftovers sit on the counter for 30 minutes before putting them into the fridge. Very hot items have the same effect as opening the door; they raise the overall temperature. The fridge must use energy to drop it back down.

Don’t Dis Your Dishwasher

When your holiday gathering is winding down, and it’s time to clean all those dishes, work smarter, not harder. It may seem like washing them by hand would be cost-effective because it omits an obvious appliance. But consider this; the water heater that warms the water you are using from the faucet is an appliance, too. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “you use up to 27 gallons of water per load by hand versus as little as 3 gallons with an ENERGY STAR-rated dishwasher.” So, you can feel good about choosing the easy way out when it comes to this chore.

It also does more harm than good to pre-rinse dirty dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. For one thing, you’re using extra water. Another problem is that if your dishwasher is a relatively new energy-efficient model, you may be sabotaging it. As summarized on the Consumer Reports website, “Pre Rinsing uses up to 20 gallons of water, according to Energy Star, plus the energy required to heat it. And if your dishwasher has a soil sensor, rinsing dishes can actually work against you. If the sensor detects that the load is fairly clean, the dishwasher will run a light wash, which can leave pieces of food stuck on bowls and plates. A better strategy? Just scrape food from plates before loading them.”

Give the Oven a Break

Don’t worry! We know that it isn’t feasible to cook your Thanksgiving turkey in a microwave. However, plenty of side dishes will turn out just as tasty if cooked in this way instead of baked in the oven. According to the Energy Star program, “microwave ovens use less energy (up to 80% less) than conventional ovens.” So, don’t be afraid to nuke your green bean casserole to cut back a little on your power usage.

Another idea that could help cut down on oven use is making recipes that don’t require cooking. As a bonus, these dishes are usually less work for the holiday host. Some examples are salads, charcuterie, and no-bake desserts. Visit The Food Network website for more great ideas for cold side dishes.

We at the New Smyrna Beach Utilities Commission wish all of our customers a wonderful Thanksgiving. We hope that these tips help to keep the usual holiday energy expenditures to a minimum. However, if you’d like to explore even more ways to save throughout the holidays, we found some resources for you. Check out the articles “Six ways to cook up energy savings this Thanksgiving” from Save on Energy and “4 Tips to Prevent a Thanksgiving Energy Bill Spike” from Energy.gov.