AUSTIN (KXAN) – As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, it can only mean one thing: Holiday lights!
Whether you prefer something classy or something a little more epic, all that decking the halls can make your energy bill skyrocket.
How can you unleash your inner Clark Griswold and not break the bank?
The least energy efficient decorations
Some decor can put a greater strain on your budget than others. According to Kendra Acosta with Pedernales Electric Cooperative, inflatable decorations are actually the least energy efficient decoration.
“That’s because they have a fan motor on the inside and it’s going to take a lot more electricity and energy to run that fan motor,” Acosta says.
Inflatables are also at a greater risk to being damaged by the weather. Most inflatables are made of water resistant lining, meaning they can handle light rain or snow. High winds and severe weather, however, can easily damage them, according to Hunker.com.
What about lighting displays?
Acosta says that lighting your home for the holidays cost about a tenth of what it used to because of the advent of LED bulbs. “Not only do they use less energy, but they’re safer and last longer,” Acosta says.
LED bulbs create light by moving electrons through a semiconductor material, creating very little heat and a lot of light. While traditional, incandescent light bulbs work by using electricity to heat a piece of metal, called a filament, which then produces light. It takes 70% more power to run an incandescent bulb than it does a LED.
Incandescent bulbs create a lot of heat when they’re turned on. Have you ever touched a light bulb that’s been on for several hours? Ouch. So hanging a few hundred of these on a dry tree is also risky, on top of being less efficient — another advantage of LED bulbs.
Because LED bulbs are brighter and cooler than incandescent bulbs, they can be used in a greater variety of ways. One of the most energy efficient decorations is a spotlight projector. These use LED bulbs to project a variety of designs onto a service, like making it look like snow flakes are falling on a house.
Energy efficient safety tips
Smart power strips can help your holiday decorations conserve energy. These work by preventing any décor that’s turned off from drawing phantom power.
Be careful with power strips, you can overload them if you plug in too many lights. “Power strips and surge protectors, they help save you money, but they only give you additional outlets. They don’t actually increase the amount of energy the outlet can handle.” Acosta says.
If you decide to use a power strip or extension cords, make sure you use ones that are rated for outdoor use. These have additional insulation that prevent water from getting inside the cord and causing an issue.
According to Statista.com, the average American is expected to spend $60 on new holiday decorations this year.