For The Home

TIPS FOR SAFE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOLIDAY LIGHTING

Few things send the holiday spirit more cheerily than brightly colored-lights. Whether they drape across the eaves of a home, ring a Christmas tree, climb up a banister or outline a doorway, holiday lights let everyone know you’ve got the holiday spirit. Help the planet by using energy efficient lighting (while reducing your electrical bill) and follow a few lighting safety tips to make sure your light displays this season are as sensible as they are sensational.

REPLACE YOUR GOLDEN OLDIES

Older light bulbs may bring back childhood memories, but they use much more electricity than today’s more energy-efficient LED bulbs. New lights that feature the Energy Star seal use 70 percent less energy than older bulbs, so the extra you spend this year on new lights will save you money in the long run.

The savings from using energy efficient LED bulbs (instead of incandescent bulbs) on a six-foot Christmas tree 12 hours a day for 40 days can cut the energy cost from more than $27 to only 6 cents, according to the statistical website Statista. And that’s after you increase your string of lights from 125 bulbs to 280!

NEW BULBS LAST LONGER

Newer bulbs not only use less energy, they last longer. This includes less breakage and burnout, leading to bulbs that last 10 times longer than older bulbs, according to Energy Star.

BUY A TIMER

One of the biggest wastes of energy associated with holiday lights is forgetting to turn them off when you go to bed at night or when you leave town. Buy a light timer that turns your lights on and off automatically so you send your holiday greetings exactly when you want to.

CHECK YOUR POWER SITUATION

If you’ve decided to ramp up your light display this year, talk to an electrician or your local fire marshal to make sure your system can handle the extra wattage. You might need to invest in one or more power strips and coordinate when you’ll be using other power sources. Schedule vacuuming, charging your phone and other activities that require electricity during the day if you’re not sure your home can handle the increased load your lights are putting on your power source. Avoid plugging more than three strings of lights together, know where your fuse box is, and make sure you have a clear, well-lit path to it in the event your circuit breaker trips.

AVOID SHOCKS AND FIRES

Keep electrical cords taped down or under rugs to avoid tripping, and remember that pets might try to chew through them. Older lights become hot (unlike new bulbs), so keep them away from flammable material, such as curtains and drapes, and make sure kids and pets won’t get burned if they touch them.

BE CAREFUL OF CHEAP LIGHTS

Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tag on any lights you buy.Illegal imports from China and other countries flood the U.S. each year, and these non-inspected, un-tested lights can start fires and give shocks. Make sure any lights you plan on using outside are outdoor-rated.

HANG YOUR LIGHTS SAFELY

Use a stepladder for hanging indoor lights, even if you think you can reach the top of your tree. When hanging lights outdoors, start during the daylight and make sure you put your ladder on a safe, flat surface each time. Test all your lights before you head outside, rather than trying to replace bulbs while you’re balancing on a ladder.

Place nails or tacks into your eaves or other wood first and then hang your lights on them. This eliminates the chance you’ll drive a nail or tack through the light string and get a shock. If you have time, buy insulated hooks from a hardware store.

At some point, you’ll probably be tempted to stretch higher than you should to place at least one strand of lights. Have someone with you to steady your ladder any time you get close to the top.

This article was written by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, contributor for The Daily Clutch.

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