Holiday lighting, both inside and outside the home, adds joy and cheer to the season. The tips below from the nation’s electric utility companies will help you to safely light up some energy savings—along with the neighborhood.
Over the past few years, a new type of light bulb, called the light emitting diode or LED bulb, has become a popular choice for holiday lighting. The LED bulbs are the best choice from an energy efficiency standpoint.
In terms of electricity use, LED bulbs use up to 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. LED lights are also more durable than incandescent light bulbs, with many manufacturers providing a limited lifetime warranty.
Another way to lower your holiday lighting electricity use is to use timers to turn the lights on-and-off. And if you set the lights to blink on-and-off, you’ll reduce electricity use even more.
As always, anytime you are working with electricity, it pays to keep the following safety tips in mind.
Before you begin decorating
- Check every set of holiday lights for frayed or bare wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Throw away damaged sets.
- Choose only lights that have been tested for safety by an independent agency, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Remember the rule of three: Use no more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord to avoid the risk of it overheating. (With LED’s, you can have a lot more sets on a single cord.)
- Always replace burned-out holiday bulbs with bulbs of the same wattage.
Decorating outside the home
- Decorate only during daylight hours so it's easy to see power lines and avoid them with your ladder. Always carry ladders parallel to the ground and look up to check for power lines before setting ladders down.
- Before stringing lights in outdoor trees, check to be sure the tree hasn't grown too close to power lines. If it comes in contact with the power lines, the entire tree could be electrified.
- For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI outlets typically have a “reset” and “test” button).
- Install or adjust outdoor electrical displays only during dry weather.
- When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 10-foot distance.
Decorating inside the home
- Locate the Christmas tree away from heat sources that could dry it out, such as heating ducts, radiators, the fireplace or the television. Keep the tree stand filled with water and preservative to prevent the tree from drying out.
- Trim your tree with only flame-resistant materials, including tinsel or artificial icicles made of plastic or lead-free metal. Leaded materials are hazardous if children eat them.
- Do not run cords under rugs, through doorways, around sharp corners or over radiators or pipes.
- Connect decorative lights to multi-outlet power strips that contain their own breakers.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles out of reach of children and pets.
- Do not use water on an electrical fire.
- Also, check, and, if needed, replace batteries in smoke detectors.
For more information about keeping the holidays bright and safe, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International’s (ESFI) Web site at www.holidaysafety.org. For information on getting more value from your electricity dollar all year round, visit www.eei.org/wiseuse.