From energy storage to distribution automation, there are many things we can do to make the electric grid smarter. However, focusing on technology while overlooking the little things would be a big miss, or the equivalent to “air conditioning the entire neighborhood” as my mother would say when demanding I shut the door. Just in time for the holidays, DOE has released the Twelve Days of Energy Savings. It is a back to basics list of things we can do to be smarter energy consumers. Below is a view of some of the days. Warning: Take the advice for yourself. I have never wanted a home energy audit as a gift!  

Day 2: Install a Programmable Thermostat

Don’t pay for warm air that you aren’t using. By installing and setting a programmable thermostat, you can save money on your energy bills — lowering your thermostat 10-15 degrees for 8 hours can save 5-15 percent a year on heating bills. If you are traveling this holiday, be sure to program your thermostat for energy savings.

Day 3: Maintain Your Fireplace

It isn’t the holidays without a crackling fire, but don’t let your energy bills go up with the smoke. Proper chimney maintenance — like sealing your fireplace flue damper, caulking around your hearth, and installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow warmed air back into the room — will help keep warm air in your house and cold air out.

Day 4: Prepare Your Windows for Winter

Before you curl up on the couch in front of the window this holiday season, be sure to take steps to reduce heat loss. Weatherizing your windows can reduce drafts, and installing storm windows can cut heat loss through your windows by 25-50 percent. Explore more tips for saving energy on your windows.