Holiday Energy Savers for Small Businesses

Holiday decorations don’t just provide a festive experience for shoppers, diners and employees. They can also increase sales and boost staff morale.

But even adding a few strings of twinkling lights can create fireworks for your energy bill. And if you really get in the spirit, your décor can get very pricey—fast.

If you know how, though, you can set a festive scene without breaking the bank. Here are a few ways to make your holiday decorations more energy efficient and cost-effective.

Swap out incandescent lights for LEDs. ENERGY STAR®-certified LED light strands use 75 percent less energy than traditional lights. They’re also brighter and cooler than incandescent lights, which reduces the risk of fire. They last up to 10 times longer and, unlike glass lights, they’re unbreakable. Plus, you can also connect up to 24 LED light strings together without overloading a wall socket. LED light strings and candles are comparable in price to incandescent indoor and outdoor holiday lights.

Use a timer. There’s no need to keep your indoor lighting display ablaze when your small business is closed. Timers will allow you to make the outside of your building or office merry while the inside stays efficient.

Bring the bling. Mirrors, tinsel, reflective ornaments, gold and silver menorahs, and other shiny décor can maximize the effect of holiday lights while minimizing the energy use.

Opt for nontraditional trees. Instead of a live or artificial tree covered in lights, why not encourage employees to come up with creative, energy-efficient alternatives? They can get ideas here for trees made from plastic or glass bottles (bonus points for recycling the bottles after the holidays), CDs and DVDs, and even old shopping carts. Or you can opt for a fiber optic tree with LED lights.

Don’t forget the traditional alternatives. Ribbon, popcorn and cranberry garlands can replace or complement light strings. Your craftier employees might like to make handmade wreaths, stockings, stars, bows and other traditional holiday decorations. You can also spruce up your space with holiday plants like poinsettias, amaryllis, Christmas cactus and potted evergreens.

Finally, you’ll spread a bunch of holiday cheer if you transform your seasonal energy savings into year-end bonuses for your employees. Encouraging them to join in your energy-efficiency efforts can improve teamwork, knowledge and concern for the environment —and increase holiday spirit throughout the workplace.