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Making Holiday Lights Both Festive and Frugal

Making Holiday Lights Both Festive and Frugal
 
The bright news this holiday season is that Alabamians can turn on their holiday lights whenever they wish without worrying about an electricity shortage.
 
Did you know that those large, traditional colored bulbs you unpack year after year could be costing you a bundle? While most C7 or C9 lights use 5 to 7 watts per bulb, some of the older strings use up to 10 watts per bulb!
 
Consider buying new miniature lights or LED strings, which use far less energy and last much longer than the larger bulbs.
 
To avoid accidentally leaving your lights on and running up your electric bill unnecessarily, use an automatic timer, both indoors and out. You'll remove the burden of turning the lights on and off and avoid leaving them on all night or during the daylight hours. Just make sure that the timer you use is rated to handle the total wattage of your lights.
 
LED holiday bulbs, are now avaiable in many colors. They're safe to touch and won't burn your children's hands! They save up to 80-90 percent of your energy costs, and are long lasting.
 
Don't forget that safety should play an important role in your holiday decorating. Here are a few suggestions:
 
Make sure all lights you purchase contain the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label, which means they meet UL safety requirements.
While you're reading labels, be sure you're buying the right set for indoor use, outdoor use, or both.
Before decorating, check all light sets for frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked insulation. If you find any defects, replace the entire set.
All outdoor cords, plugs and sockets must be weatherproof. Keep electrical connections off the ground, and make sure wiring is kept clear of drainpipes and railings to prevent any risk of shock. It's also a good idea to use a ground fault circuit interrupter on each circuit. If current leaks through frayed or damaged wires, the interrupter will shut off the lights.
Don't overload your electrical circuits.
To avoid disaster, keep trees well watered and keep extension cords and light strings away from the water. For safety's sake, light your tree only when you are at home and awake to enjoy it. As an extra precaution, keep a fire extinguisher handy, and be sure your home's smoke detectors have new batteries and that they're working properly.
If you're in the mood for a holiday that's old-fashioned and more energy efficient, consider decorating this year's tree with edible ornaments, like gingerbread men, candy canes, and strings of popcorn and cranberries. But stay away from burning candles on or around your tree. Although they may provide a soft, flickering light, they're a definite fire hazard, and aromatic candles have been known to cause indoor air quality problems.
 
And here's an unusual gift idea: since lighting is essential all year long, why not brighten someone's holiday by giving them compact LED or fluorescent light bulbs? Lighting can account for as much as 25 percent of a home's electrical use. You can increase the everyday lighting efficiency of someone's house - without sacrificing its lighting quality - by simply helping them replace their incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or LEDs. These come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and wattages and use less energy.
 
Maybe this holiday season is the time to replace an old halogen torchiere lamp with a brighter, safer, and more energy efficient compact fluorescent torchiere. Once considered the lighting of the future, some halogens use up to 20 percent less energy than incandescent lights and last anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 hours. Despite that, they are far less efficient than compact fluorescents and, because halogens burn much hotter than other lights, they may present a fire hazard. If you're using halogens, keep them at least six inches away from flammable materials.
 
Home heating is the second highest cause of fires in the home, with chimneys and chimney connects accounting for the largest share of home heating fire incidents (40 percent). So, it may be a good time to have your chimney swept.
 
Underwriters Laboratories says consumers can cut their risk of dying in a home fire in half simply by having a smoke alarm in their homes.
 
So, if you don't have a smoke alarm...or if you know of someone without a smoke alarm...it would be a good holiday present.
 
Above all, be safe in your home and have an energy-aware and happy holiday!

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