Whether you’re hosting holiday gatherings, decking the halls with festive lighting or running countless holiday errands, the holiday season doesn’t have to run up your energy bills. To reduce energy use during the holidays, follow these tips from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Give the gift of savings.

Ø  Give your family the gift of energy savings with ENERGY STAR® qualified electronics such as computers, printers, televisions, battery chargers, Blu-RayTM players, DVD players and cordless phones. These products use less energy than products without the ENERGY STAR label.

Ø  Include rechargeable batteries for additional savings. Although these batteries have a higher initial cost, they can be recharged and used many times, and therefore have lower environmental impact than disposable batteries.

Ø  Don’t forget advanced power strips.  These strips eliminate standby or “phantom” power from electronics that still continue to draw power after they are turned off.

Decorate with ENERGY STAR lighting.

Ø  Decorating your home for the holidays can be costly, but many energy-efficient options are available that can help save money. When purchasing lights, look for the ENERGY STAR label, and always remember to use an automatic timer to turn your decorative lights on and off.

Ø  Consider ENERGY STAR qualified decorative light strings featuring light-emitting diodes or LED technology. These decorative light strings consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands, can last up to 10 times longer, are cool to the touch, reduce the risk of fire in your home, and if a single bulb burns out, the rest of the LED string will stay lit.

Combine Trips.

Ø  Plan your shopping trips carefully. Several short trips can use twice as much fuel as a longer one that covers the same distance. Stop by the store on your way home from work to conserve.

Ø  Be sure to drive sensibly and defensively as traffic increases around the holidays. Aggressive driving wastes gas and can lower your mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town.

No Peeking.

Ø  Whether preparing holiday feasts or simply doing some baking, don’t be tempted to open the oven door.  Every time you do, the temperature goes down 25 degrees, forcing your oven to work harder and use more energy.

Ø  Heat multiple items in the oven together when preparing holiday meals and treats. Turn the oven off 10 to15 minutes early to let residual heat finish the job.

For a real energy-saving present this season, give yourself the gift of a comprehensive home energy assessment, which can help you decrease energy use in your home, cut energy costs and increase comfort in 2012 and beyond. To find out how you can qualify for a free or reduced-cost whole-house energy assessment in New York State, go to http://nyserda.ny.gov/residential.