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An energy-efficient Christmas and a sustainable New Year: how to prepare for the festive season amid an energy crisis

The sight of snow-covered streets and buildings dressed in cheerful festive lights may have given us all a much-needed respite from the growing concerns caused by the ongoing energy crisis. Unfortunately, despite the joyful Christmas season, the energy crisis continues to grip family budgets across the continent.

Ticking off the Christmas ‘to-do’ list (sustainably)

For many, decorating the Christmas tree is just that special moment which can instantly get us into the festive spirit. We usually tend to use the same decorations every year – so why not make some long-term savings by switching to LEDs? Interestingly, making the switch to LED Christmas lights is on top of the EDF’s Energy Use at Christmas money-saving guide. According to a research by the UK-based energy company Hometree, it costs 83 per cent more to use incandescent bulbs instead of LED for your tree and other Christmas lights. Putting this into perspective, the cost works out on average at 9.82 British pounds (11.27 euros) more for house light decorations and 3.11 British pounds (3.57 euros) more for Christmas tree lights in the month of December (UK estimates, pre-2022). To bag some additional savings, it might be worth considering using a timer for the number of hours your new LED Christmas lights are switched on.

Once the Christmas tree is up, it’s time to put the Christmas culinary skills on display. When busy in the kitchen, it’s important to make sure not to open the oven door too often as the heat lost during frequent openings will mean that the oven will have to use significantly more energy for cooking.

All that’s left now is the most important part of the big day: family. Upon arrival, consider greeting your guests before you open the door to keep the heat from escaping. Whilst you’re at it, consider turning the thermostat down by 1°C. The ideal room temperature should be in the range of 18-21°C. Interestingly, according to EDF’s money-saving guide, around 80 British pounds (92 euros) could be saved annually for every degree celsius decreased on the thermostat.

Tackling two crises at once this Christmas

As we take steps to adapt our festive traditions amidst soaring energy bills, we can also make a small – but significant – contribution to saving the planet from the climate crisis. When thinking about Christmas presents for the younger members of the family, we might consider ‘battery-free gifts’. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, almost 40 per cent of battery sales takes place during the Christmas period. Batteries, both discarded and rechargeable, are a considerable environmental hazard.

A more environmentally-friendly alternative can be naturally-powered toys like the “Air and Water Power Kit”, providing unique tools for building a range of different models of vehicles and machines powered by air and water pressure – which may even inspire some to become hydrogen experts!

Once that perfect Christmas present is ready, it might also be worth considering cutting costs on non-recyclable wrapping paper. Whilst colourful, bright and fancy – in most cases, wrapping paper is an unnecessary ‘added cost’ which contributes to the already high levels of waste and plastic pollution. For example, shiny wrapping paper is often made using mylar, a plastic film coated with aluminium. To cut costs and contribute to reducing global pollution levels, research from Greenpeace suggests using drawstring-style cloth bags for soft gifts like clothes, and recycled paper or cloth for boxes. Interestingly, this takes inspiration from Japan where gifts are usually wrapped using traditional furoshiki cloths, making that perfect gift extra special for those who are in love with the fascinating Japanese culture!

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