Each time you open the oven door, youâ€"ll lower the...

Each time you open the oven door, youâ€"ll lower the oven temperature as much as 25 degrees. Credit: Getty Images/Onoky/Eric Audras

When the weather turns cooler and the holidays arrive, you may see your energy consumption (and utility bills) skyrocket. Here's how to enjoy the season while going easy on the planet — and your wallet.

1. Control temperatures.

Use a programmable thermostat to automatically switch warmer daytime settings to cooler settings come bedtime. For each degree you lower your thermostat, you can reduce your energy use by 1% to 3%.

2. Heat economically.

Heating and cooling costs account for 45% of the average home's energy tab, so it's important that your home is well-insulated. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors. Have your furnace tuned up and your fireplace cleaned to ensure they heat efficiently. Since hot air rises, switch ceiling fans to reverse so the blades will push hot air down to where it's needed.

3. Prevent stoppages.

Avoid breakdowns and backups during your household's busiest times by checking that toilets, faucets, shower heads, garbage disposals and dishwashers are operational. Clean faucet and showerhead filters, repair drippy faucets and inspect toilet tank valve systems to make sure they are flushing properly. Use a disinfecting cleaner designed for your dishwasher to improve water circulation and remove odors, food residue and mineral buildups.

4. Examine appliances.

Kitchen appliances should be in tiptop shape so they can effectively handle everything from chilling Chardonnays to baking Christmas cookies. Clean refrigerator condensers, wipe down microwave interiors, and clear freezers and refrigerator of expired or unwanted foodstuffs to make way for holiday provisions. If an appliance isn't working well, call in an appliance repair person to get it in good running order before festivities begin.

5. Rethink lights.

Energy Saver, the U.S. Department of Energy's consumer resource, says you'll save a lot by replacing incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR(R) qualified LED light strands. In addition to using 70% less energy than traditional bulbs, the eco-friendly lights last 10 times longer and are brighter, safer and cooler. Bonus: you can connect up to 24 strings of LEDs end to end without overloading an average wall socket.

6. Power up.

Stock up on power strips and extension cords to accommodate everything from holiday decorations to food-heating devices. Set out extra flashlights in case the power goes out.

7. Cook smart.

Each time you open the oven door, you'll lower the oven temperature as much as 25 degrees. Instead of opening the oven door to check on what's cooking, turn on the oven light and look through the window. When possible, use slow cookers, microwaves and outdoor grills, which require less energy to run than major appliances.

8. Create shortcuts.

Save time and energy by serving ready-made foods, such as fancy cheeses, frozen appetizers and deli-made spreads. Place all wrapping paper and trims in the area of your home where you'll be wrapping gifts to save yourself extra trips. When it's time to deck the halls, prepare by buying extra ornament hooks, nylon line, narrow ribbon, florist's wire, twist-ties and spare holiday light bulbs so you can enjoy the season without worrying about unplanned errands.

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