Ask The Electrician: Holiday Q&A –

Ask The Electrician: Holiday Q&A –

Q: How do I keep electrical costs under control and safe during the holidays?

Tis the season and we are all hopefully making things merry & bright in our homes and with our families. These celebrations come with some extra costs and safety concerns that are easy to manage with a little thought.

Holiday Lights and Decorations:

Overall your holiday light display isn’t likely to break the budget for electrical costs but a little planning can make it a lot smoother and more energy efficient and avoid any faults/tripping breakers.

  • Timers: A timer is a great way to share your holiday light show when friends and neighbors are most likely to enjoy it. It saves some electrical costs and puts “turning everything off late night” on auto-pilot.
  • Connections and cords: Take special care to keep any connections dry and out of the elements. These connection points are one of the most common causes of a tripped breaker or short in the system.
  • Outdoor/Wet Ratings: Be sure any exterior lights are both UL listed and outdoor rated. Extension cords should be outdoor rated as well. Lights should be plugged into an exterior GFCI rated outlet.
  • Trees and indoor displays should be turned off when you are not at home to enjoy them for both safety reasons and to save a bit of electricity.
  • Consider an upgrade: Most of us only use our holiday lights once a year (except that one “year round” neighbor that we all have), and in general we don’t replace holiday lights and decorations very often. Newer LED lights are both more energy efficient as well as generating less heat reducing the potential for faults. They also offer some cool new features!

Programmable Thermostats:

It’s chilly out and we all want to be comfortable. A programmable thermostat can help keep the house warm when everyone is home and save a bit of energy during the night (when we’re all cozy in bed) or when everyone is away at work. Check with your local energy provider for any tax credits or other credits for installing a programmable thermostat or signing up for off-hours usage for bigger tasks (laundry, dishwashers etc.) at a reduced rate.

Space Heaters:

A little chilly in the back office or upstairs bonus room? Space heaters can be a great way to keep a room extra cozy but should only be run while in the room.  They can consume a fair bit of energy if used for extended periods. Look for models that have an automatic shut off feature if they over heat or are tipped over.

Smoke Detectors:

It goes without saying that every home should have working smoke detectors but before the holidays is a great time to double check that yours are functional and have been tested.  Be sure to check the date on your smoke detector, they should be replaced every 10 years at a minimum. Unfortunately between kitchen accidents, Christmas trees and fireplace hazards, the holidays can be an increased risk for house fires, knowing that your smoke detectors …….