Holiday energy use

How to Limit Energy Costs Around the Holidays

By Megan Porter

No matter what kind of business you own, the winter holidays are just not the same without string lights and other cheerful displays. While these are not likely to break the bank, the small increases in operational costs can seem big when you factor in the cost of other energy and holiday expenses.

The winter holiday season is known to be high energy, but your business’s energy expenses don’t have to suffer. In fact, there are a number of low- and no-cost solutions to keep your costs down with sustainability practices. California business owners can help employees limit energy and commercial lighting expenses by alerting them to the major causes of energy waste. These typically include non-light emitting diode (LED) string lights and other holiday displays, improperly programmed thermostats and failing to keep up with the maintenance schedule of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Just follow energy guidelines from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and share them with employees as you enjoy holiday cheer.

Sustainability practices start with education

Offer your employees stats and facts that put energy efficiency into perspective to underscore the importance of sustainability practices during the holidays. Consider addressing string lights first. Some people enjoy string lights so much that they use them year-round. And who can blame them? String lights are whimsical and welcoming, but certain types can be costly.

For example, the annual operating cost of large incandescent holiday lights is $91.43, while the annual cost of using LED string lights is about $0.56.1 The cost comparison is powerful, and by pointing it out, business owners can drive home the budgetary consequences of needless waste. LEDs cost a little more to initially purchase than incandescent light bulbs, but they last significantly longer.

Another device you might focus on is your building’s thermostat. Regular thermostats can lead to significant energy waste, especially if they’re running during off-hours. Businesses tend to carry different operating hours during the holidays, which makes the case for a programmable thermostat all the more convincing. While California typically enjoys mild temperatures, it’s still important to adjust your thermostat depending on building occupancy. Installing an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat, for example, can prevent unnecessary heating and can save a business as much as 10% a year in energy costs.2

Work with a qualified trade professional

A qualified trade professional will be able to determine whether any equipment needs to be repaired or replaced. This is important, because any worn-out equipment that is made to run beyond its capacity could negatively impact a business’s operations. Trade professionals can also point out sustainability practices and habits you might not have known about.

There are several preventive measures businesses can take to achieve optimal sustainability before the winter season begins. Bringing in a qualified technician to test, clean and adjust HVAC equipment to ensure system maintenance is a good place to start. This should be done in addition to the recommended maintenance schedule for each piece of equipment your business uses.

Make a checklist before shutting down for the holidays

Before closing up shop for the holidays and weekends, it’s important for business owners and property managers to perform a few minor tasks to ensure the energy bill doesn’t exceed your budget while you’re away. Be sure to:

  • Turn off all lights except for security and safety lights.
  • Power off all unused equipment, including printers, computers, fax machines, scanners and more.
  • Turn off the circulation pump in your water-heating system.

To ensure that your business operations are performing at optimal energy efficiency over the winter holidays, download PG&E’s free eBook, "20 Sustainable Products" for tips and more information. Happy holidays!


  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  3. Pacific Gas and Electric Company

How to Limit Energy Costs Around the Holidays
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

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