Holiday lighting tips

Posted on Dec 06 2020 in Heartland REMC
Garrett Keiser
Energy Advisor

2020 has been, without a doubt, an unusual year for all of us. As we look toward the end of the year, one thing that we can always count on is the joy of the holiday season.  One of my greatest joys is holiday decorating.  If you are like me and are looking to refresh your holiday décor or take it to the next level, I have some lighting tips for you! There are two areas to cover, so let’s get started. 

Safety is up first. If your lights are ground mounted or can be installed standing on the floor or ground, you can skip ahead. However, since most decorations involve some installation at height, you need to do the following:

  1. Have a ground crew (one or two people) to steady your ladder and pass up the decorations…an invaluable part of safety and for keeping you supplied with untangled light strings, fasteners and encouragement.
  2. Remember to keep a safe distance from your overhead electric service. 
  3. Don’t overreach. If you cannot get to a point with your body completely centered between the sides of the ladder, get down and relocate it.
  4. Don’t overextend the ladder. If your ladder is too short, rent or borrow a longer one. A ladder extended beyond its working  limits is as dangerous as standing on rungs too close to the top.
  5. Do not overload circuits by stringing more light sets together than the manufacturer recommends. Check the packaging for details. 
  6. Check your wires for breaks and cracks in the insulation that can lead to shorts. 

Most of these tips apply equally to inside and outside decorating activities.

Light selection is next. If at all possible, invest in LED lights this season. Unlike the first versions to hit the market that were characterized by rather harsh and unattractive colors, the newest generation’s colors are reminiscent of the incandescent lights of yore. 

Why go the LED route? Longevity and cost of operation are the two key reasons. Unlike incandescent lights, whether the large or mini bulb, LEDs will last for many, many years. LEDs have no filaments to burn out. Aside from physically destroying the bulb, the LED is amazingly robust. 

Truly want to manage the cost of operating holiday lights? Invest in timers to turn the lights on and off automatically. Really into gadgets?  Invest in a smart plug for your lights which can be programmed and controlled from your smart phone.