Winter Holiday Preparation Guide

You may find that the holiday season can have a big impact on your utility bill. Between holiday cooking, winter break, hosting guests, and holiday decor your energy and water consumption is likely to go up without you even realizing it. That's why we've put together a list of top tips for conserving energy and water during the holiday season.

Mother and Daughter Cooking Turkey

Conserve While Cooking

  • Turkeys and hams are typically slow roasted for many hours - there’s no need to preheat your oven.
  • Fill the oven with as many items that can be cooked at one time.
  • Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees, increases cooking time, and heats up your kitchen. Instead, look through the oven window if you have one.
  • Use a microwave oven to cook smaller dishes quickly and efficiently. Microwaves use 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens and they don’t heat up the kitchen.
  • Slow cookers, or crock-pots, also are an efficient option. They can cook a whole meal for about $.17 worth of electricity.
  • Instead of cooking in the oven, use outdoor grills or smokers when the weather is nice to save energy.
  • When cooking on top of the range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. Clean burners and reflectors provide better heating while saving energy.
  • Use lids while cooking with pots and pans to prevent heat loss. 
  • Do not put aluminum foil in the bottom of your oven to catch spills, etc. This blocks the heat that the oven elements are trying to radiate. It can also void your oven’s warranty if case there is a problem.
  • Consider investing in Energy Star-qualified appliances which consume 10–50 percent less energy and water than standard models. You can save more money on utilities than you spent on the new appliance.
  • If you are frying food, recycle your used cooking oil which can be turned into biodiesel. You can deposit used cooking oil at any one of the 21 participating Jacksonville Fire & Rescue stations.
  • Read the American Red Cross's tips on preventing kitchen fires.  
  • Unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires. Learn more kitchen fire facts.  
  • Never use an oven to heat your home. 
Led Holiday Lights Close-up

Decorating Tips

  • LED Holiday lights are a great option. They use far less energy than conventional string lights, have a longer lifespan, and operate at a much lower temperature, reducing the risk of fire.
  • Check lights for frayed or bare wires and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets before using. 
  • Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night, depending on your preferences.
  • Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your resources for shine.
  • Never light candles near curtains, drapes, or near any potentially flammable item. Also be sure to blow them out before you leave home or turn in for the night. 
  • Find more energy-saving decorations tips at
Family Having Dinner Laughing

Traveling and Receiving Guests

  • If you plan on traveling for the holidays, there are ways to save on energy when you are not home:
    • If you are leaving for 2-3 days: Turn your thermostat down. Turn your water heater off. Just don’t forget to turn it back on immediately upon arrival.
    • If you are leaving for 4 or more days: Consider turning your water main off unless other water consuming appliances (e.g. water softeners) may be negatively impacted. In the case that a pipe breaks, this will reduce your water consumption and your risk for flooding.
  • If you are receiving out of town guests, keep track of your energy usage with JEA’s Utility Tracker.

Winterizing Your Home

  • Think about protecting your house before the cold weather hits.  If there is a freeze while you are out of town, your pipes have a higher chance of bursting.
  • Become informed on how to prevent and thaw frozen pipes
  • Learn how the weather and humidity affect your bill
  • While we use more energy cumulatively in the summer months, we actually use the most energy in a single occurrence during the cold winter days.
  • Manage the heat strip in your HVAC unit. It consumes three times as much energy as a conventional heat pump when in use.
  • Consider using space heaters in occupied spaces as a “spot heater” and turn down the thermostat to avoid the costs of heating your entire home. While using them, keep these safety tips in mind: 
  • Fireplaces are nostalgic and can set a cozy mood but they can also create drafts of cold air within the home causing the homeowner to use more electricity.
  • Now is a great time to air seal around windows, doors and other leak points. Consider boosting your attic insulation if it is under an R-38 level.
  • Have your local HVAC professional tune-up your system before the winter heating season begins. 

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