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Bright Ideas for Energy-Efficient and Safe Holiday Lighting

This holiday season, EEI and its member companies encourage you to be safe and energy-efficient, starting with your holiday lighting. Decorators can achieve a festive presentation while using environmentally friendly and safe lighting options.

While shopping for your holiday decorations, you may notice the large number of lighting options available. While it may seem like one light is as good as any other, there are significant differences among the various types.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights offer the most energy-efficient and cost-effective way to light up your home or business. LEDs create light without using a filament and produce very little heat, increasing their energy savings and safety over traditional bulbs. Purchasing LED lights also help save money, as they offer the longest operating life–typically 20,000 hours or more compared to 3,000 hours or less for incandescent holiday lighting–meaning you won’t have to replace them often.

An easy way to know if your decorative lights are energy-efficient is to look for an ENERGY STAR® certification. Lights that are ENERGY STAR® certified use up to 75 percent less energy than conventional lights. Visit ENERGY STAR® for more lighting information.

General Tips

  • Always inspect your lights before decorating. Throw away lights that have frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked or missing insulation.
  • 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 outlets protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
  • Hang outdoor lights with insulated staples or hooks instead of nails or tacks.

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.  You can also use a timer for turning the lights on and off (make sure that the time is compatible with the types of light bulbs you are using).
  • 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 nearby electrical devices when making adjustments.