Deck the halls with energy savings, safety

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Arlo Christensen talking about holiday lighting safety during the media event at the OPPD Arboretum.

It may be time to deck the halls, but you don’t have to break the bank – or a leg – in the process.

Switching to energy-efficient LED holiday lights can save you money right away, without losing any of the sparkle of the season. And taking some simple safety precautions when lighting up your home’s exterior will ensure an injury-free holiday.

OPPD recently put that philosophy into practice by holding a Christmas tree decorating contest at the utility’s arboretum. The event, which was open to the media, also put the spotlight on safety around the holidays. Hundreds of people fall from ladders each year when trying to hang lights on the exterior of their home.

Here is a time-lapse video of the decorating contest:

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OPPD employees Patrick Finigan, Taylora Christensen and Cheryl Limbach decorate their trees to demonstrate safe and efficient holiday lighting techniques. Photo by Angel Ruiz Flores
Play it safe

Here are some useful and simple safety tips to remember as you’re dragging out the ladder to channel your inner Clark Griswold.

  • When hanging outdoor lights, stay far away from overhead power lines. Don’t use ladders or decorate trees near them either.
  • Outdoor lights should have labels that clearly state they are certified for outdoor use. Only plug them into ground-fault interrupter (GFCI) protected recepticles.
  • Only use lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory such as UL or ETL/ITSNA.
  • Before putting up your lights each year, take a few minutes to inspect them forIMG_1094 frayed wires, bare spots or gaps in wire insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear.
  • Only use newer lights with thicker wiring that requires safety fuses to prevent overheating.
  • If using an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the intended use.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Don’t drive nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation.
  • Don’t link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Make sure to periodically check the wires by touch, to ensure they are not warm.
  • Keep paper and tinsel away from lights.
  • Unplug your tree lights and outdoor lights before you go to sleep, or invest in a light timer.
  • Don’t conceal cords under rugs, furniture or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed and cause a fire.
Make the switch

Now that you have a safety refresher, let’s talk money – specifically how much you can save by switching to energy-efficient LED holiday lights.

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EE_Holiday Lighting_2018_tree detailBeyond energy savings, LED holiday lights have other benefits, such as:

  • They’re safer. LEDs are much cooler in temperature than incandescent lights, reducing fire and burn risks.
  • They’re sturdier. LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are more resistat to breakage.
  • They last longer. LED lights typically last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • They’re easier to install. Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall outlet.
Laura King-Homan

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

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