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Smart ways to save on your utility bills during the holidays

Once the holidays swing into full gear, you’ll be pretty busy. There are plenty of meals to cook, visitors to entertain, and lights to fire up. Keeping your home utility bills under wraps during this time can be a bit of a challenge, but with a few changes to your smart home, you can squirrel away a few extra dollar bills and put them towards your gift shopping instead.

Update your smart thermostat schedule

A Nest Learning Thermostat installed on a wall corner next to the kitchen.
Google / Google

You may be home more often close to the holidays, so it’s worth going into your smart thermostat’s settings to manually set schedules based on when you’re planning on being in the house. Doing this allows the algorithm to maintain an efficient home heating plan even though you’re changing up the routine that it’s come to expect. Conversely, if you’re getting out of town for the holidays, it’s helpful to keep your smart thermostat informed so the furnace isn’t blasting while you’re away. Take a gander at some of the settings you’ll want to change.

Switch to LED bulbs

Twinkly smart lights set up around Christmas tree.

If your Christmas tree lights are old incandescent bulbs, you can save a bit of power by switching over to LEDs. Yeah, you might be attached to the set you’ve been using since you were a kid, but LEDs use about a 10th of the power of incandescent bulbs. It’s worth the upgrade. While you’re at it, make them smart bulbs. That way you can ensure the tree’s only turning on once it’s properly dark out and everyone’s still awake to enjoy them.

Go the extra mile and include your holiday lights in your bedtime routine for Google Home or Apple HomeKit so they turn off along with your other smart lights. As an added bonus, smart lights are able to animate with some pretty flashy holiday colors, and can often sync up with holiday music in real time. Trust us, smart lights will put your old bulbs’ twinkle mode to shame. There are a bunch of artificial Christmas trees with smart lights built in if you want a fully integrated experience. The same conveniences and electrical savings can be applied to outdoor lights if you’ve got a big installation out front.

Find some new pressure cooking recipes

Instant Pot with an air fried chicken next to it.
Instant Pot

Leaving the oven running for hours on end for big family meals is going to be a big part of your next energy bill. A little bit of research and investment in an Instant Pot can help you cook delicious meals while using far less power. These are great for dense food, and multiple cooking modes give you plenty of versatility. The slow cooker mode is useful for roasts. Some models have air fryers built in that can produce some great pastries. The main thing is making sure you have a model with a big enough capacity to feed everyone coming over for Christmas dinner. If you don’t have one yet, here’s a rundown of the best Instant Pots available. Even beyond the holidays, it’s worth having one around.

Smarten up your hot water delivery

If you’re hosting more company over the holidays, odds are you’re going to be using a lot more hot water. The efficiency and type of water heater will determine your utility bills here, but a smart management system can help maximize those savings. These can build predictions of how much hot water you need during the day so that your tank is only being preheated as much as necessary. Even tankless water heaters can benefit from some added intelligence.

Hopefully, these smart home tips will help you keep your budget under control over the holidays, and maybe even through the rest of the year.

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Simon Sage
Simon has been publishing in tech since before the first iPhone was released. When he's not busy lighting a candle for the…
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