From the tree lights to your outdoor holiday decorations, all that festive fun is certainly easy on the eyes, but it can do a number on your budget. Light up the right way to give yourself the gift of an affordable electric bill. Keep reading for smart strategies even Santa would approve. Photo by Getty Images.
Light up with LED bulbsDonate or discard those ancient incandescent light strings and switch to LEDs. Not only do they last up to 10 times longer, but LED light strings with an Energy Star rating also use 50% less power than traditional incandescents. This goes for candelabra bulbs, too.
SAVINGS Up to $4 a light string per month
Limit outdoor lights to 6 hoursSure, you're proud of your festive light show, but it can take a lot of power to keep those decorations on all night. This year, wait until dark to turn the lights on and cut the switch before bed. Worried you'll forget? Invest in an easy-to-use timer for less than $20 and let it do the work for you.
SAVINGS Up to $37 a month per string of 100-bulb lights
Select a strip
The holidays are aglow with energy-dependent decor. And even though you hit the "off" button on the miniature village or electric candles every night, the items still draw power-costing you as much as 6% of your monthly bill. Your choices: Unplug, or arrange the plugs to share a single power strip with an easy flip switch (find a six-outlet style for $4 at Lowes.com).
Strategies for Safer Lighting
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Linking more than three light strands to one another can overload a circuit, blow a fuse or heat cords-all of which are a fire hazard. To minimize risk, use one extension cord for every two or three strings.
BE CAUTIOUS WITH METALLIC TREES
A faulty light on an electric strand can charge the entire tree and put anyone touching it at risk of shock. Opt for battery-operated lights instead.
CARE FOR CORDS
If you no longer have the insert or spool on which your string lights were packaged, try this: Wrap each cord around an empty coffee can. This prevents tangles and minimizes stress on wires from winding them too tightly. Then store the cans in a place where bulbs won't get banged and broken.