PLAINFIELD, Ind. -- Duke Energy has offered suggestions to help everyone be safe and save money as they decorate for the holidays.
On average, holiday lighting costs just pennies a day.
However, elaborate displays that use large incandescent bulbs can add as much as $80 to a monthly power bill, depending on the number of bulbs and how long they are lit each day.
"That's a huge difference, especially if you're not expecting it," Duke Energy Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Gianna Manes said. "There are so many energy efficient options available today that even the most elaborate display can fit into anyone's budget."
Six sets of 100 large incandescent bulbs plugged in six hours a day can add up to $80 to an energy bill. The same style bulb that uses a light-emitting diode (LED) rated at 65 watts would increase the electric bill by only about $7 a month. Using mini-lights will reduce the cost increase even further -- to about $1 a month.
To help customers estimate their holiday lighting cost, Duke Energy has added a calculator to its website. Residential customers can visit www.duke-energy.com and select their state to access the calculator.
Energy Efficiency Tips
With colder temperatures, people will be turning on their heat for the first time since last winter.
"The thermostat is the real culprit of a higher December bill, so we encourage customers to select the lowest comfortable setting when they're home and then bump it down a degree or two when they leave," Manes said.
Other money-saving tips include:
* Have heating or cooling equipment checked each and every season by a qualified technician to make sure it is operating properly,
* Change air filters. This should be done every month throughout the year,
* Make sure heat registers and vents are not blocked by draperies, furniture or rugs or holiday decorations. These vents should also be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or a broom, and
* Take advantage of a natural solar heat. On sunny days, leave the draperies open to allow the sun's rays to warm the house.
* Before installing lights, check each set -- new and old -- for damaged sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using,
* Never use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord,
* Exterior lights should always be plugged into a ground fault interruptible (GFI) outlet. If the home's outside outlets are not GFI, contact an electrician to have them installed,
* Before climbing a ladder, inspect it to ensure it is in good working condition and respect the weight limits designated on the ladder. Ladders that must 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 was designed, and
* Never use a ladder on or near power lines.
"If you take a few extra steps this holiday season to plan your decorations, you and your family can rest easier knowing that your display is safe and efficient," Manes said.
Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States.
Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 4 million customers located in five states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 11 million people.