Tips for Safe, Affordable Holiday Decorating

holiday lights

As the holidays approach and people scramble to decorate their homes and businesses, a few tips can help ensure the halls are decked safely and efficiently.

“The joy of holiday lights won't mean much if you hurt yourself or your home,” said Bill Micklos, a holiday lights enthusiast and FirstEnergy utility customer.

In his 30 years of holiday decorating, Micklos said he and his wife, Olivia, have learned to make their extravagant outdoor lights display safe and affordable, without compromising the look of their masterpiece.

They started their display with traditional incandescent bulbs but recently made the switch to energy-saving LEDs, which also burn cooler and reduce the risk of a fire.

“When we started with 10,000 incandescent lights, our electric bill was around $800 for the six weeks we had everything up,” Micklos said. “Now that we are using all LED bulbs, our bill runs around $350 for about 65,000 lights.”

Here are his tips to keeping the holiday season merry, bright and safe:

Safety first!

  • Inspect each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections, and frayed or bare wires. Throw away all damaged cords.
  •  Make sure the wattage rating of each extension cord is greater than the wattage of all lights and decorations plugged into it. Wattage ratings indicate the maximum power a device can safely handle.
  • Exterior lights need to be weather-resistant, which will be indicated on the UL label. The same goes for any extension cords used outdoors.
  • Before replacing a bulb on a string of lights, make sure the wattage rating of the replacement bulb matches that of the light strand.
  • Connect no more than three strands of incandescent lights together per plug. LEDs can have up to 30 strands connected per plug.
  • Unplug all indoor and outdoor lights before going to bed, or use a timer.

Decorate efficiently!

  • LED lights use 80 percent less energy than incandescent lights and tend to last 25 times longer.
  • Look for “warm” white on the label of LED lights to achieve the look of incandescent lights.
  • Consider do-it-yourself decorations using inexpensive materials like plywood, PVC piping, tomato cages and string lights
  • Stock up on holiday lights and decorations right after Christmas when they are on clearance.
  • Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night.

Customers are also reminded to keep their decorations far from electrical equipment such as pad-mount transformers, utility poles and electric meters. Pad-mounted transformers look like big green or gray metal boxes and they contain electrical equipment with high voltage inside.

By taking the proper precautions both inside and outside of the home, you can prevent hazards and focus on friends and family during the holidays. For more holiday decorating tips, visit bit.ly/FEholidaysafety

Last Modified: December 7, 2017