Keep Your Holiday Season Bright, Energy Bills Low with Tips from the Alliance to Save Energy

Release Date: Monday, December 2, 2002

Energy efficiency measures can deliver holiday cheer to your home this year, despite higher prices for heating fuels. By now, homeowners in areas where the use of home heating oil is prevalent know to expect energy bill increases of as much as 45 percent this winter, while those using natural gas have been warned that prices may rise by up to 19 percent.

But home owners can still keep their holidays bright with cheer and their homes warm without letting increases in their energy bills and cold temperatures damper the holiday spirit. For starters, look for the Energy Star label when purchasing new home appliances.

The Alliance to Save Energy offers these additional home energy efficiency tips to help consumers “light up their holidays” without lightening up their pockets:

  • Operating lights for no more than six evening hours a day keeps energy use and costs under control. If you leave your lights on 24 hours per day, you will spend four times the money and create four times the pollution.
  • Turn Christmas lights off during the day or when you are away. Timers are a simple way to do this and also are a safety measure since lights can cause fires if not used properly. For safety’s sake: Always unplug your lights before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Consider using energy-saving LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights that use about 99 percent less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors.
  • New "icicle" lights have more lights per linear foot than regular light strands and use more energy—make your choices accordingly. For each compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb you substitute for an incandescent bulb in your home, you can afford to light a string of 100 mini-lights and still save energy, money, and the environment. During the next year, that CFL will save five times the energy of the light string.
  • Protect little fingers: Make sure there’s a bulb in each socket. If a bulb is burned out, leave it in until you have a replacement. • Don’t overload your electric circuits. Check your fuse or circuit breaker panel to see how much your home can handle, and stay well within limits.
  • For outdoor lights, use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) on each circuit that automatically shut off the current when a leak is detected. Cover outdoor plugs and connector joints with a water-resistant layer of plastic wrap and electrical tape.
  • To prevent electrical shock, never use electric decorations on artificial trees with metallic needles, leaves, or branches. Instead, place colored spotlights above or beside the tree-never attached to it. Make sure artificial trees are flame retardant.
  • Make sure your lights have a safety listing from Underwriters Laboratories (UL symbol), and use lights only as intended. Keep extension cords and light sets away from the tree stand, and keep your natural tree watered to prevent bulbs from igniting dry branches.
  • Take the lights down after the holidays. No need to light up the night until spring.