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Bright Ideas for Safe, Energy-Efficient Holiday Lighting
​EEI and its member electric companies encourage you to give the gift of a safe and energy-efficient home this season, starting with your holiday lighting.  Electric holiday lighting was first switched on in a mid-town Manhattan apartment during the Christmas of 1882. Since then, the styles and choices in holiday lighting have steadily grown.

Holiday lights vary widely in their energy usage and cost to operate. The large, traditional bulbs (usually labeled C-7 or C-9) use about 7 watts of electricity per bulb. Lighting a string of 100 C-7 bulbs costs you around 8.68 cents per hour (using the national average electricity price of about 12.4 cents a kilowatt-hour).  The popular mini-lights use a fraction of the electricity—about four tenths of a watt (0.4 Watt) per bulb—and lighting a string of 100 mini-lights costs about a half a cent per hour (0.496 cents per hour). If these lights blink on and off at even intervals, the cost in each example is cut in half.

The new light emitting diode (LED) holiday lights offer the most energy-efficient and cost- effective way to light up your home this season. LEDs create light without using a filament, which means they produce very little heat, increasing their energy savings, safety, and longevity. The mini-LED lights use only four one-hundredths of a watt (0.04 Watt). The cost to light a string of 100 LED lights would be about $0.000496 per hour (0.0496 cents per hour). Along with the lowest operating costs, the LED lights also offer the longest operating life—typically rated at 20,000 hours or more, which means you won’t have to replace them for many holiday seasons to come.

Along with energy efficiency, safety is another factor to consider when using holiday lighting. Listed below are some safety tips for using both indoor and outdoor lights. Also, remember that just because your lights worked effectively last year does not mean that they shouldn't be inspected this year. A few minutes spent checking cords and plugs for potential hazards can reduce the possibility of a fire.  

Throw away lights that have frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked or missing insulation. And make sure that holiday lights carry the seal of approval of a recognized safety-testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  Indoor-use only light strings are marked with the UL's green holographic label, and light strings for indoor and outdoor use have the UL's red holographic label.

Outdoor Lighting Safety Tips 

  • Install or adjust outdoor electrical displays only during dry weather. 
  • Outdoor displays require outdoor (low temperature), exterior-rated extension cords, including fixtures, cords, and bulbs. 
  • 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. 
  • Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them. 
  • Do not use more than three sets of standard incandescent lights on each extension cord.
  • Do not run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged. 
  • For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). 

Indoor Lighting Safety Tips

  • Do not use more than three sets of standard incandescent lights on each extension cord.
  • Keep lights away from carpeting, furniture, and drapes. 
  • Turn off decorative lights before you go to bed or leave home. 
  • Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly. 
  • Avoid running cords under rugs, through doorways, or near furniture where they may be stepped on, tripped over, or broken. 
  • Do not place cords around or near metal pipes, appliances, or anything that is damp or metallic. Turn off electrical devices when making adjustments. 

After the holidays, a great New Year’s resolution is to make your entire home more energy-efficient. To help you keep that resolution, contact your electric utility or visit its Web site. Electric utilities offer energy-saving advice and programs that can include home weatherization and online energy audits, which enable you to zero in on where your home may be wasting energy, right from your own computer, tablet, or smart phone.  

For more information on electric utilities and energy efficiency, please visit www.eei.org/wiseuse​.