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Deck the Halls … Efficiently and Safely

Preparing for the holiday season is joyful and exciting, and decorating can be just the beginning of a fun-filled holiday season. What could be more beautiful and fun than an abundance of lights, inflatable lawn ornaments and possibly even mechanical figures? But it can be easy to forget just how much energy these items consume, or how some items can pose safety hazards around the home.

A typical strand of lights uses around 300 watts of electricity. Multiply that figure by dozens of strings of lights, and it’s easy to see how quickly energy use can add up.

As the festive season is close at hand, we would like to share some ways to be both energy-efficient and safe with your holiday decor this season.


  • Switch to LED lights. LEDs consume a fraction of the energy that traditional incandescent bulbs do. While a standard string of 50 lights consumes 300 watts, LED sets only consume 4 watts and save considerable amounts of money over the course of the holiday season.
  • Use fiber-optic decorations. Fiber-optic items are lit by one light and the illumination carries through the fiber-optic cables to the entire decoration.
  • Use a power strip and timer. Plug decorations into a power strip and hook everything up to a timer.
  • Enhance ornaments. Use mirrors and reflective ornaments to give the appearance of more lights without actually adding more.
  • For a little extra twinkle outdoors at night, harness the sun’s energy with solar lights or spotlights.
  • Turn off ambient lighting. Christmas tree lights or lights framing a picture window should be sufficient to light a room. Keep lamps and overhead lighting off while the tree is lit to save money and energy.
  • Lower the thermostat. When entertaining, turn the thermostat down a few degrees. Having extra people in your house and heat generated by the oven and other kitchen appliances can warm up the home.
  • Change your cooking practices. Smaller appliances use less energy. Put those toaster ovens, slow cookers and electric fryers to good use. Only use the oven if you are cooking a large meal.


  • Switch to LED. LED lights are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, making them more resistant to breaking, plus they’re cool to the touch.
  • Inspect last year’s tree lights for cracked or loose sockets, exposed wires and frayed, broken or scorched insulation.
  • If you plan to hang lights outside, they need to be designed specifically for the outdoors because they can handle inclement weather. Indoor lights have thinner insulation that can become cracked and damaged when exposed to inclement weather.
  • Don’t use staples, tacks, nails or screws to hang lights. They can pierce the cable and become electrified. Use insulated hooks.
  • Avoid hanging holiday lights near any items that pose a potential fire hazard, such as candles, space heaters, fireplaces, etc. Make sure bulbs aren’t too close to paper or any other flammable materials.
  • Don’t overload extension cords and outlets. Too many plugs can cause a fire. Every once in a while, touch the cord to measure its temperature.
  • Don’t put cords near the water dish of a tree.
  • Never use candles on a tree.
  • Unplug all decorative lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • When the holidays are over, pack your lights in well-sealed containers to prevent water damage or chewing from rodents.