Holiday lights can boost power bill

Posted December 1, 2014

Stanley and Brenda Hall’s house sits along N.C. Highway 231 in Nash County and is decorated with more than 40,000 Christmas lights. The house itself is a story, too. The Halls grew up in the area, paid $1 for the house and moved it to its current location in Middlesex 30 years ago.

— Hanging holiday lights are a tradition in many households but those twinkling displays will affect your winter energy bills. 

"Elaborate lighting displays can add significant costs to your energy bill. Estimate your energy costs before decorating and incorporate efficient, budget-friendly lighting options to save money during the holiday season," said Gayle Lanier, Duke Energy senior vice president of customer services.

Duke Energy's website has a holiday lights calculator that allows customers to estimate lighting costs. The tool calculates the cost of large and mini incandescent and LED lights based on how many strands used and how long the lights are burned each night. 

For example, six 100-bulb sets of large, incandescent bulbs (a total of 600 bulbs) plugged in for six hours every night can add as much as $80 to a monthly power bill. If those lights were LED bulbs, the cost would only be about $7 per month. If the bulbs were mini-LEDs, the increase would be only about $1 to the bill each month. 

When installing holiday lights, Duke Energy offers these safety tips: 

  • Before installing lights, check each set – new and old – for damaged sockets, loose connections and frayed or bare wires. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
  • Never use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Plug exterior lights into ground-fault interruptible (GFI) outlets only. If the home lacks outside GFI outlets, call an electrician to install them.
  • Before climbing a ladder, inspect it to ensure it’s in good working condition and follow the weight limits specified on the ladder. Ladders that lean against a wall or other support should be angled so the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is about one-quarter the working length of the ladder. Never use a ladder for any purpose other than the one for which it’s designed.
  • Never use a ladder on or near power lines.

Holiday lights aren't the only thing that will raise energy bills. As the winter temperatures drop, heating bills will go up. 

"The thermostat can be the biggest contributor of high winter bills," Lanier said.  “We encourage customers to select the lowest comfortable setting when they’re home, then lower the temperature a degree or two when they leave.”

Lanier also offers these money-saving tips: 

  • Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.
  • Inefficient heating can also add to monthly power bills during colder temperatures. Regular service calls from a licensed technician will help to properly maintain your heating and cooling system.
  • The ceiling fan is a great way to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Simply set the fans to operate in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.
  • On sunny days, leave your drapes or blinds open to allow the sun’s rays to warm the house.
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  • UpChuck Dec 1, 2014

    Color me shocked.