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National Grid offers energy and money saving tips for safe and festive holiday decorating

by jmaloni
Mon, Dec 12th 2011 07:00 am
Holiday lights abound this time of year. Pictured is a decorative home in Youngstown.
Holiday lights abound this time of year. Pictured is a decorative home in Youngstown.

by National Grid

National Grid understands the importance of celebrating the holiday season with family and friends, and warm, colorful lighting. While the current economic climate may be imposing for many customers - especially during the holidays - by following some simple energy efficiency and safety tips, customers can benefit from a more environmentally friendly, safe and cost-effective way to save money this holiday season.

Save Big on Lighting

Over the past few years, new lighting alternatives have become available that may cost more initially, but cost much less to maintain and operate. Energy-efficient miniature or light-emitting diode (LED) lights use considerably less energy than traditional lighting technology. The list below provides customers with the potential costs associated with each type of lighting.

  • Traditional Lights -- These lights use about five watts per bulb. A typical residential customer with a rate of 15 cents per kWh will pay $33.75 a month to operate 10 strings of 25-bulb traditional bulbs for six hours per day.
  • Miniature Lights -- The average miniature light uses 0.5 watts per bulb. Operating 10 strings of the bulbs, at 100-bulbs per string for the same six hours, will cost the typical residential customer $13.50 per month.
  • Icicle Lights -- Icicle lights use the same amount of energy per miniature bulb as miniature light strands, but a string of icicle lights with 100 bulbs will cover a much shorter distance than a straight string of miniature lights. Adding additional strands of lights will increase the typical residential customer's electricity usage.
  • LED Lights -- LED lights use only 0.05 watts per bulb, or 1/10 the amount of miniature bulbs. Due to their solid-state construction, these bulbs are safer and more durable. Ten sets of 100 of these LED bulbs will cost the typical residential customer $1.35 per month to operate.

Regardless of the lights you choose, additional energy and cost can be saved by turning lights off and unplugging before going to bed or installing an automatic timer that can reduce power usage by turning the lights on at dusk and turning them off at a desired time. Also, consider using fewer lights and more decorations that do not use energy - such as wreaths or poinsettias.

Additional Energy Saving Tips

  • Yard Inflatables - Yard inflatables range from simple blow-up cartoon characters to 8-foot-tall globes with rotating figures, blowing snow and lights. Large globes consume about 150 watts per hour, while rotating carousels consume around 200 watts. At 10 hours per day, the total cost of electricity could be $10 per inflatable, per month.
  • Holiday Cooking -- Using the smallest appliance for the job while cooking during the holidays will always save energy.  For example, microwave ovens use less than half the energy required by a conventional oven.  Use the smallest pan and burner needed for the job. Cook with lids on your pans. For example, cooking pasta without a lid on the pot can use three times as much energy.
  • Smart Baking -- To improve oven efficiency, keep the doors closed as much as possible and bake several dishes at the same time and temperature. Every time the door is opened, heat escapes.
  • Storing the Feast -- Keep extra beverages and holiday leftovers cold by storing them in your garage or on the porch if temperatures permit.  Unplugging that second refrigerator saves $23 per month on the electricity bill. Also, defrosting frozen food in the refrigerator helps keep the refrigerator cold.

Decorating Safely

  • Avoid Overhead Lines -- Overhead power lines are not insulated and carry enough energy to cause serious injury or even death.  Never use an aluminum ladder within 10 feet of power lines, and keep yourself and holiday decorations at least 10 feet away from residential electric lines and equipment.
  • Approved Lighting -- Make sure your lights have a safety listing from a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  A safety approval seal means the lights have been tested and are safe to use.  Use lights only as intended. Always unplug your lights before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Outdoor Connections -- Plug outdoor lights into ground fault circuit interrupters, which are available at hardware and electrical supply stores.  If there is an electrical fault with a light string, GFCIs will automatically shut off the electricity well before any electric shock could occur.  Also, cover outdoor plugs and connector joints with a water-resistant layer of plastic wrap and electrical tape.
  • Christmas Trees -- If you have an artificial tree, make sure it's been tested for flammability by the Underwriters Laboratories.  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. Keep your natural tree well watered to prevent bulbs from igniting dry branches.  Keep extension cords and light sets away from the tree stand.
  • Don't Overload -- Don't overload your electric circuits.  Check your fuse or breaker panel to see how much your home can handle and stay well within limits.
  • Avoid Shock -- Make sure there's a bulb in each socket.  If a bulb has burned out, leave it in until you have a replacement.

National Grid also encourages residential customers to take advantage of rebates available on high efficiency gas heating equipment, including furnaces, boilers, water heaters and programmable thermostats. Rebates vary depending on the type and efficiency level of the equipment. For more information, call toll free 866-716-8099, or visit us online at www.powerofaction.com.

Customers may also want to consider getting rid their old, second refrigerator or freezer by participating in National Grid's refrigerator/freezer recycling program. Chances are that old, extra fridge could be costing up to $150 a year to run. Instead, recycle it, reduce your energy bills, and keep harmful materials out of landfills. We'll pick it up for free and send you a $30 rebate. Contact us toll free, at 877-691-0021, or on the Web at www.powerofaction.com.

National Grid has a 20-year track record of partnering with its customers to provide successful, award-winning efficiency programs in its U.S. service territory. These programs have helped save customers nearly 565 million therms of natural gas, representing approximately $876 million in savings on their heating bills. To find out more about the energy efficiency programs in your area, including details of potential incentives and forms for installing additional energy efficiency measures, visit National Grid's energy efficiency website at www.powerofaction.com.

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