By Darrell Marks
Just as kids will ravenously rip into gift boxes later this month, many adults start the month rummaging through garages, attics and basements to dig out ye olde lights of holidays yore to once more commemorate the season.
Before you go searching for those old lights and electric decorations, you should be wary that those splendid gingerbread characters, snowmen and other illuminating mascots may actually be energy vampires sucking up way more electricity than needed – driving your energy bill up! Here are a few steps to keep in mind when planning your holiday decorations to ensure safety while minimizing cost:
Use LED lights for energy savings.
If you use the same holiday lights and decorations for years, you may be wasting money! Technology has improved the efficiency of holiday lights which are now made with LEDs. If you have not updated your lights in the last five years, you may want to consider upgrades. If you decorate with older illuminated lawn ornaments, consider switching the bulbs inside those ornaments with LEDs.
Make sure your outdoor lights are properly rated.
Before decorating outdoors, make sure that your lights and decorations are rated for outside use. Not all holiday lights are rated for exposure to rain or snow. Using indoor lights outside your home could damage them, leading to a higher risk of fire or electrical shock.
Use timers to schedule displays.
While decorations liven up the mood, it makes the most sense to have them on at times when people can enjoy them. Automatic timers can schedule your holiday decorations so that they are enjoyed when you want them – and not cost you money the rest of the time. You can even purchase an outdoor-rated smart plug; these newer devices can be controlled via mobile device and offer added controls, such as dusk-to-dawn functionality.
Buy ENERGY STAR®-rated products.
When shopping for new decorations – or even major appliances – search for items that have the ENERGY STAR label. Items and appliances with this rating use less electricity than other products available. The reduced energy use will save you money over the product’s lifecycle.
Taking just a few steps can lead to holiday happiness while ensuring safety and savings all season! You can put that money to good use – on additional sides for festive meals, or even gifts under the tree. Contact your local electric co-op for even more energy advice or tips to help you keep your wallet a bit greener all year long!
DARRELL MARKS is energy services specialist at Kanakee Valley REMC in Wanatah, Indiana.