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Bright Ideas for Safe and Energy-Efficient Holidays with SDG&E

It's that time of the year when many of us are decorating our home, business, or office inside and out with festive strings of lights. Examples include lights over the fireplace, lights wrapped around trees and bushes, and lights hanging along roof lines and eaves.

To help you save money on lighting costs this season and avoid safety hazards, there's a list of timely tips.

  1. Make smart lighting choices. LED holiday lights are the way to go! They use up to 80% less energy, are brighter and safer, and are cooler than incandescent lights. They're easier to install - up to twenty-four strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. Plus, they last ten times longer and have no filaments or glass to break.

  2. Get reflective. Shiny ornaments, tinsel, and mirrors can multiply the effects of your lighting without using more energy. Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your resources for shine. (But be sure to keep tinsel away from pets.) Don't forget the ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs for electricity-free traditions that bring holiday cheer.

  3. Limit energy use. Set timers for lights to turn on and off automatically. Keep light displays on during the evening and turn them off overnight using timers. You can save more by keeping light displays on only 8 hours of the evening (when you can see and appreciate them.)

Here are some useful tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.

  1. Hang lighting safely. Make sure that cords are not pinched by furniture or placed under rugs, furniture, or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed which increases the risk of fire. Replace faulty lights instead of trying to repair them.

  2. Avoid electric hazards outdoors. Before climbing ladders to string outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines on your roof or attached to your home. Always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. Never place yourself or any object, such as a string of lights, in a position that risks contact with a power line - the result can be fatal.

  3. Plan ahead. Avoid overloading extension cords and wall sockets by following the manufacturer's limits for the number of light strings that can be safely connected.

  4. Put your tree in a safe location. Do not place your holiday tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, making it more susceptible to fires caused by heat, flame, or sparks.

  5. Check the condition of lights. Inspect light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires so discard damaged sets of lights.

  6. Check your environment outdoors. Before stringing lights on outdoor trees, make sure tree limbs haven't grown into or near power lines. Branches, entire trees, and even the ground adjacent to a tree can become energized when trees come in contact with power lines.

  7. Read the labels. Be sure to check each product label to see whether the lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use. Make sure lights have a tag indicating they have been evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory.

  8. Use GFCI outlets. Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). How do you know if it's a GFCI? Look for the "test" and "reset" buttons. If circuits are not GFCI-protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased.

Visit for additional winter safety and energy-savings tips.


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