Light up for the Holidays

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Dean Pannell shares Decorating Ideas

Whether it’s a small, traditional display or a yard full of dazzling decorations, outdoor décor is on trend for the 2020 holiday season. Photo courtesy Christmas Lights, Etc.

Light up for the Holidays

After a long year of Zoom weddings, backyard graduation ceremonies and drive-by birthday parades, North Georgians are anxious to get back to “normal” for the upcoming holidays. Though the 2020 yuletide season will likely involve a much thinner social calendar for most, it could be a breakout year for outdoor decorating, predict trend watchers.

“…we’ll see more Georgia homes with festive lighting displays because it’s an ideal way to outwardly express the holiday spirit…”

“Consumers are going to step up their lawn decorations this year,” said Greg Brooks, Walton EMC’s community and public relations director. “I think we’ll see more Georgia homes with festive lighting displays because it’s an ideal way to outwardly express the holiday spirit while we can’t invite as many friends and neighbors into our homes.”

Holiday lighting is already a tradition for many in Walton EMC’s service area. Two years ago, the co-op began its Merry and Bright social media poll to identify the most dazzling displays of holiday cheer. This year’s trend toward more outdoor decorating could result in many new addresses being added to the must-see list for “light lookers,” Brooks said.

With today’s energy-efficient holiday light options, Walton EMC customer-owners can take their decorating to new heights — without worrying about their electric bill doing the same. We recently visited with Frank Skinner, director of marketing for Alpharetta-based Christmas Lights, Etc. for tips to help you light up for the holidays.

Tip #1: Load up on LEDs

LED lights are much more efficient, durable and versatile than incandescent lights, which allows people to create more impressive displays.

LED holiday lights consume 80 to 90 percent

less energy than incandescent bulbs.

Energy efficiency is the main attraction, said Skinner. “They consume 80 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, which means people can more easily create much larger light displays now without the electrical challenges that come with incandescent lights.”

Though their prices have been coming down season after season, LED holiday lights initially cost more than incandescent ones. You’ll save money in the long run, however.

Beyond superior energy efficiency, LED holiday lights are also substantially longer-lasting than their incandescent counterparts. Quality LED lights work for up to 100,000 hours, versus 3,000 hours for incandescent lights.

The sturdy construction of LED lights is another point in their economic favor. Many are made with durable acrylic lenses, not glass, making them much more resistant to breakage. So, if you drop a string of lights while high up on a ladder, don’t worry. There will be no shattered mess to clean up and the bulb will still work even after it has fallen.

The long life and durability of LED lights means repeat purchases of them are reduced drastically. This multiplies savings year after year, Skinner pointed out.

According to energy.gov, LED holiday lights also have these advantages:

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.

Tip #2: Calculate your cost

Understanding how much electricity Christmas lights use will help narrow the options for lights that will work best for your home or business display. You can also anticipate how much your holiday lighting will add to your Walton EMC bill.

The Christmas Lights, Etc. website offers the following formula to calculate the cost of lighting for a month. Note: Monthly calculations are based on running lights five hours a day for 30 days and are based on Walton EMC’s cost of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The average string of 100 LED lights will cost

less than 1 cent in electricity per day.

First, find out how many watts each string of lights requires. You’ll find this information on the package. Then:

  • Multiply watts times 0.001 to find kilowatt-hour.
  • Multiply by 5 hours a day to find kwh/day.
  • Multiply by 30 days to find kwh/month.
  • Multiply by 10 cents to calculate cost.

The average string of 100 LED lights will run less than 1 cent in electricity per day. Fan-inflated lawn decorations have a much higher daily electricity demand, so be sure to budget for their energy use, too.

Tip #3: Start simple

If you like decorating but don't have the budget to create the next Clark Griswold house, take the time to create a small, but very long-term plan, suggested Skinner.

“Invest in lights and decor that you know you can use multiple ways and that will last for multiple seasons,” he advised. “In the end, you'll save money and have better options to work with as you create new ways of decorating.”

Tip #4: Be weather wise

Invest in Christmas products that will hold up in the weather. Remember that moisture and electricity don't mix. Use only lighting products rated for outdoor use. Also, buy accessories that keep your products looking good and well conditioned, like hanging clips and stakes. Resist the urge to affix lights to the roof with a staple gun, which can damage the light string.

You have plenty of choices for realizing your creative vision,

whether it’s simple or grandiose.

Tip #5: Map it out

There are lots of outdoor décor products on the market today, so you have plenty of choices for realizing your creative vision, whether it’s simple or grandiose. For inspiration, take a look at the outdoor Christmas decorating ideas offered by the pros at Christmas Lights, Etc.

Once you’ve settled on a look, map it out. Planning what goes where before it’s time to install decorations will help you gather the equipment and supplies you’ll need. And don’t forget to think about the locations of exterior electrical outlets as you make your plan.

Tip #6: Limit light time

If you’re on a tighter budget this year but still want to decorate your home’s exterior, limiting light time can save money on your electric bill. Here are two ways to save:

  1. Put your lights on a timer. Be sure to use a durable Christmas lights timer that is made to withstand the elements. Install it in a place that is easy to access so you can make changes as the days get even shorter. Schedule lights to run no more than 5 hours each evening.
  2. Instead of lighting up the day after Thanksgiving and running into January, turn on your outdoor decorations a week later and shut them off by New Year's.

Nominate your outdoor display or a neighbor’s for the

Walton EMC Merry and Bright holiday lighting poll.

Tip #7: Share the joy

Once your outdoor decorations are up, share the joy of the season with others. Walton EMC is conducting its Merry and Bright poll to find homes and businesses within the co-op’s service area that are decorated with Christmas lights, lawn ornaments and dazzling displays of holiday cheer. Visit the co-op’s Facebook page to nominate your handiwork or that of a neighbor. Then, stay tuned to the results of the 2020 lighting poll that will be announced in December.

Whether it's a mega light display or something classic and simple, you can celebrate the holidays with outdoor decorations that reflect your personal style and within your own energy budget. This year, get creative — and remember to list your home on the Merry and Bright poll to share your display with others.