Smart Energy: December 2016

Smart Energy: It Was an Ugly Tree Anyway

By Todd Munsey

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of the wonderful holiday season. While it’s unlikely that any of us will be throwing a lighted match into the sewer or destroying our Christmas trees while lighting our stogies, the holiday classic, “Christmas Vacation” does actually present an opportunity to offer up a few holiday safety tips.

Using common sense as your guide, a two-plug outlet is designed for well… uh… two plugs, not 22. Yet, as funny as it seems when Clark Griswold creates his multi-plug fiasco, and you are all visualizing it at this moment, the dangers are real. Be smart about your use of extension cords and overloading outlets. There is no need to intentionally create a fire hazard.

Using energy-efficient, LED Christmas lights is a great idea. Previous experience tells me that installing them with a staple gun is not. It’s not the shock factor you or Clark need to worry about, but rather all the times you penetrate the wire by mistake. Your lights won’t light, and you can’t blame that on the cat biting through the cord. Also, just because LEDs may be the latest and greatest, you’ll finish installing them and still find that some bulbs refuse to light! (And if you bought a certain, well-known brand, it’s the blue and orange ones!) Grrr!

Less heat, lower wattage and the ability to plug many strings together are definite advantages of the LEDs.

On a serious note of safety, woodstoves and candles ruin way too many family holidays. Don’t dry your firewood out by placing it near the stove and don’t leave your candles burning when you leave the house. Even Cousin Eddie knows that. The new LED, battery-operated candle lights are a very convenient, beautiful and a safe alternative.

The Griswold home is a little over the top when it comes to lighting and their meter may not spin quite as fast as the movie depicts, but determining what your lighting will cost is easy. All lighting and displays have a wattage associated with them. Simply add all of your holiday lighting wattage together. As a rule of thumb, 1,000 watts, running for one hour will cost about 9 cents. (This rule also applies to space heaters.)

Keep in mind that holiday company will also increase your energy usage. More hot water, more oven use, more lighting and more heat also comes with having more guests.

Upgrading your holiday lighting and changing a few holiday habits will prevent you from celebrating a Griswold-style Family Christmas. There is a tremendous amount of information available to help you do both. Take advantage of it, and you will have the hap-hap-happiest holiday season ever!

Todd Munsey is the member services director for Douglas Electric Cooperative.