Holiday dinner plate

With outdoor lights twinkling and the crockpot bubbling, electricity use is bound to increase when you’re throwing a holiday party.

But if you plan ahead, you can save energy while creating a comfortable party space, preparing the food and displaying festive decorations.

“How your guests behave at your party can have an impact on your energy costs,” said Armando Ruiz, a Senior Technical Specialist with Tucson Electric Power’s Residential Energy Efficiency Programs and Services. “It’s not just the cost of the food you should consider.”

The first step is to look at your party space.

For parties with indoor and outdoor gathering areas, think about whether doors will be left open as guests come in and out. If a lot of movement is expected, turn down the temperature on the thermostat to prevent too much heat from escaping.

During indoor parties, also turn down the heater to prevent stuffiness in crowded areas. Ceiling and table fans can be used to circulate the air to keep guests comfortable.

When preparing food, use the oven and stovetops efficiently by cooking as many dishes at the same time as feasible. That way, you won’t have to keep appliances on as long. To reheat, use a microwave.

“A microwave may not be popular for good, home cooking. But financially, it can be cheaper to use one,” Ruiz said.

At the end of the party, make sure the food is cooled down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator. Hot or warm food requires more energy to chill. But don’t worry about packing in the leftovers, as a stuffed refrigerator is more energy-efficient than a bare one.

Holiday decorations also can use a lot of energy. For holiday lighting, use outdoor spotlights and strand lights with LED bulbs, which use 70 percent less energy than standards bulbs. Find out how to save money on lighting.

Throughout the season, timers can be used to turn on lights when it gets dark and off when it’s time for bed. See more holiday decorating tips.