Safe and Efficient Holiday Decorating
December 13, 2013
The holidays are a time for colorful lights and beautifully decorated homes. By remembering a few tried and true tips – along with considering some new lighting options – you’ll be able to safely enjoy your holiday display this year without a big jump in your December energy bill.
Many years ago, miniature holiday lights replaced larger night-light-type bulbs in most decorations. Commonly sold in 50- or 100-light strings, miniature lights use about half-a-watt per bulb. They also stay much cooler than the older styles, so they’re safer and the last longer too.
LEDs use 90 percent less energy, are more durable and can last years longer
For even greater savings, more and more decorating options are using super-efficient Light Emitting Diodes instead of bulbs. LED holiday lights are available in different sizes depending on the amount of brightness you want and they come in a variety of colors.
Though LEDs are more expensive to buy, prices are coming down. LEDs use 90 percent less energy than traditional holiday lights, are more durable and can last years longer. Operating ten strings of mini-LED lights compared to ten strings of standard mini-lights can save nearly $12 in energy costs in one month.
Another good way to keep bills down and stay safe, regardless of your choice of lights, is to be sure to turn them off when you’re away from home or before going to bed. Depending on your personal schedule, using timers to control when the lights go on and off may be a good option.
For safety, be sure electrical circuits and extension cords are properly rated and not overloaded. Before reusing last year’s lighted decorations, it’s a good idea to inspect them for damage to wires or sockets. Remember to unplug them before replacing fuses or bulbs.
When decorating outdoors, use only outdoor-approved displays, light sets and extension cords. And be sure to plug them into outlets protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.