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It’s time once again to fire up the grill as we savor that final taste of summer this Labor Day.

Believe it or not, this holiday is also the perfect chance to do something good for the environment and conserve those precious resources, all without sacrificing any Labor Day fun.

The County’s emPower program suggests five ways to save energy (and energy costs), as well as other resources while enjoying and entertaining throughout the Labor Day holiday.

  1. Keep it local

Spending some time outdoors is a no brainer this Sept. 7, but the beauty of living on the Central Coast is that you don’t have to go far to find the perfect summer setting.

Visiting a local beach or park instead of going out of town will not only give you more time to enjoy the day, it will save you an extra trip to the gas pump.

Even better, keep festivities in the backyard — no car trips needed, and you’ll easily be able to use your reusable kitchenware, cutting down on waste.

  1. Cook a little extra, why don’t ya’?

Grilling up some food outdoors seems like the obvious choice, but while you’re at it, why not cook enough for a few more nights of dinner?

Cooking indoors heats up your home, so a few nights without the oven on can help keep you from reaching for the thermostat.

Give your air conditioning system and energy bill a break.

  1. Toaster ovens — not just for bagels

We love our grills on the Central Coast, but you can’t bake cookies or cake on the barbecue.

If you’re planning on baking something to munch on, consider using a toaster oven instead of heating up the full oven.

You’ll use less energy and release less heat into your home. Win-win.

  1. Lighting the way

If you plan to spruce up the yard before the big barbecue, look into outdoor LED lighting options — pathway, landscaping and porch lights — that can help keep the festivities going into the night.

Outdoor lighting is typically left on for long periods of time, making LEDs a perfect choice.

LEDs use 70–90 percent less energy than outdated incandescent bulbs and can last 25 times longer.

  1. Pool party? Cover it up!

Have you become famous for your end-of-summer pool party? Perhaps it’s time to invest in a pool cover that will reduce water evaporation.

Keeping the pool covered when not in use will also help reduce heating costs.

Some pool covers can reduce the amount of solar energy a pool absorbs — a significant part of keeping a pool heated, so choose a transparent, solar pool cover (the kind that looks like bubble wrap) that will only reduce solar absorption by 5–15 percent.

Small changes can go a long way toward making your Labor Day an environmentally friendly gathering, and if you’re interested in seeing what else you can do to conserve energy in your home, emPower Central Coast is here to help.

The County-operated program also offers free home energy site visits through its Energy Coach service to help identify issues such as improperly operating furnaces, leaky ducts, drafty windows and poorly installed insulation. EmPower can further connect homeowners looking to fix these issues with qualified local contractors, utility incentives and low-interest unsecured financing.

For more information, visit

— Angel Pacheco is a publicist representing emPower.


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