By Sarah Krekorian

To state the obvious, Christmas is quickly approaching with all of the indulgences that come with it. You may treat yourself to one too many mince pies but you can have decadent festivities while still saving energy and money. Want to find out how? Take a look at our ‘green’ festive tips below!

If you haven’t already, go for a living tree rather than a plastic one. Ideally, choose a potted one and water it every day (Christmas trees need at least 1 litre of water a day!). In the New Year, shift it outside to grow until its needed next year. If a living tree isn’t an option, find a local sustainably-forested cut tree and ensure that it is recycled once the decorations are taken down.

Plastic trees are generally made from metal and PVC meaning that they are not biodegradable or recyclable and embody a lot of carbon. Plastic trees tend to be imported from China and their transportation just adds to their carbon footprint. ‘Real’ trees are carbon neutral because they absorb as much carbon as they grow as they will emit if burnt.

With all of the latest gadgets and toys, the festive season can generate a lot of batteries. Use disposable to their full capacity by using them in multiple devices or rechargeable ones where possible. Try to recycle them rather than throwing them in the bin as they can release toxic chemicals and do not biodegrade. If you can, give presents that don’t need batteries – it will save money as well as the environment in the long run. You can find energy saving products on the Energy Saving Trust Recommended product search.

Buy a local turkey and vegetables for your festive roast to reduce food miles and carbon emissions. When cooking those Brussels sprouts, make sure you keep the lid on the pan when boiling water as it can reduce boiling time and energy consumption by 10%!

When putting your oven on, consider cooking several things at once to make the most of the energy. If you are baking a batch of mince pies on the top shelf, a tray of vegetables could go on the middle shelf for roasting and a load of jacket potatoes could go on the bottom shelf to make efficient use of the heat. If everyone with an oven used an Energy Saving Trust Recommended certified oven for one use this Christmas rather and the average oven we’d save enough electricity to power over 1060 homes for a whole year!

Avoid single use paper or plastic cups for entertaining which are wasteful. If you’re running short of glassware for your party, many supermarkets now lend out glasses for your celebration so ask while you’re stocking up your other Christmas treats.

Keep the festive warmth in by closing your curtains at night. This can reduce your energy bills by reducing heat loss through your windows, which will save you money. Once Santa has dropped off your presents, you probably might not be using your chimney again for a while.  You can stop draughts from you chimney by blocking it with a special inflatable balloon or by fitting a draught proofing screen in front of the fireplace. You’ll have saved £20 in heating bills by next Christmas and your home will be cosier too!

Christmas lights can be energy intensive. Switching to LED Christmas lights from traditional Christmas lights will cost you nearly six times less to run. . If all 26 million UK homes swapped one string of standard fairy lights for LED lights, during the 12 days of Christmas alone, collectively they would save enough carbon dioxide to fill 188,000 double-decker buses (over 26,000 tonnes of CO2). Financially, it would save nearly £9.7m – that’s enough to pay the weekly energy bills for 400,000 homes. A simple money saving tip is to always remember to turn Christmas lights off when you go out or go to bed. If you’re forgetful, try using a timer switch so that they automatically turn off over night.

Don’t forget your exterior lights too. An extravagant Christmas light display can cost as much as £100 to power throughout December, producing enough CO2 to fill more than two double decker buses. Again, use LEDs where possible and make sure that you flip the off switch when you head off to bed and go out during the day.

Keep hold of your Christmas cards. Remove the back with the message on (which can be recycled) and save the picture to use as gift tags next year. Save scraps of ribbon to tie them on to presents.

Avoid foil wrapping paper and choose brown or recycled papers instead. Metallic plastic foil wrapping cannot be recycled.  Better still, iron or smooth out your paper and reuse it next year. Use as little sticky tape as possible, which doesn’t biodegrade and will make it harder for others to reuse the paper. Instead, choose ribbon or raffia to keep it together, which can also be reused for gifts all year round.

Decorations don’t have to be expensive. Whether it’s snowflakes out of scrap paper to stick on windows and suspend from string, or coloured envelopes from your Christmas cards and bright scrap paper from magazines for paper chains, you can make the season one of thrifty creativity.