Tips for The Holidays
This time of year you’re sure to see your neighbors dragging plastic Santas out of the garage, cramming Christmas trees through the doorways and unsnarling strings of holiday lights. Decorating can be a hassle, but with a little bit of planning, you can create a beautiful display that won’t have you saying “bah humbug” once your energy bill arrives.
Five tips for saving energy this holiday season:
• Look for LED holiday bulbs. The average holiday light uses five-to-seven watts per bulb…and some of the older strings use up to 10 watts per bulb! The new LED lights use less than half a watt per bulb. They’re also shatterproof, water resistant; safe to touch and won’t burn your children’s hands.
• Don’t like the look of LED? Downsize to miniature lights. They use up to 70 percent less energy and last much loner than larger bulbs.
• Admit it: you’ll never remember to turn them off. That’s why you need automatic timers both indoors and out. That way you won’t have to bother turning the lights on and off, nor do you risk leaving them on day in and day out.
• It’s not just the holiday lights that run up your energy bill…it’s also all the cooking. You’re probably not using your oven as efficiently as you could be. Sure, it’s fun to peek at the pies as they cook, but the temperature inside your oven drops up to 25 degrees every time you open the door. So resist the temptation and use the oven light instead.
• The dishwasher is your friend. A load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand. Don’t forget to use the energy-saving cycles whenever you can. Dishwashers with air power or overnight dry settings can save up to 10 percent off your dishwashing energy costs.
Hospitals are busy places during the holiday season, so here are five tips for staying safe:
• Use only outdoor lights in your yard. How do you know which is which? The box will tell you.
• Don’t pull a Chevy Chase. STAY OFF THE ROOF! Not only do you risk sliding off, you can also cause leaks that way.
• Look on the back of your holiday light’s box to find out how many strands you can put together. Ignoring that number can cause a fire.
• Make sure your lights are safety certified. Look for a labor that says “Underwriters Laboratories Approved” or U L Listed.”
• Test your lights before you hang them. Look for cracked or loose sockets and connections, exposed wires and frayed, broken or scorched insulation before you plug them in. Then put them on a nonflammable surface and plug them in for 10-to-15 minutes, checking for melting, smoking or overheating.
Holiday trees are expensive! Make sure yours is worth the money. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, as many as 35 million families will buy live Christmas trees this year.
Five tips for making sure your tree will last:
• Slam the cut tree down on the ground—stump first—before you buy it. If a lot of needles fall of, this one’s a dud.
• Cut at least an inch off the trunk just before you put it into the tree stand. This will help the tree absorb water.
• Leave the tree outside until you’re ready to decorate it. The air inside your house is generally dryer and will suck moisture out of your tree.
• The tree stand that you use should hold at least a gallon of water. A six-foot tree goes through a gallon every two days…so anything less won’t cut it.
• Water your tree every day and add a commercial preservative.
Half the holiday hassle is the mess. Here are three ways keep clean while you’re decorating:
• Gift-wrap your holiday tree. Here’s how: buy a disposable plastic drop cloth and cut a small hole in the middle. Push the trunk through the hole before you put the tree in the stand. Cut a small slit to add water when you need to and fold the extra plastic under the tree skirt. When the holidays are over, unfold the plastic and bring all four corners up to the treetop. Now it’s all wrapped up and won’t drop needles all over your house.
• Bag your lights. Lower each strand into a numbered plastic bag as you take them down. Then you can avoid snarls and follow the numbers to replicate your display year after year.
• Get hooked. Stapling or nailing your lights to the house can cut into the wires, which poses a safety hazard. Use hangers instead. The lights will be safer, easier to hang and take down.
You know you put those decorations somewhere….don’t waste money buying stuff you already have. Here are three tips for smart storage:
• Always use boxes with lids. It sounds simple, but how many times do you just throw your decorations into a box somebody sent you over the holidays?
• Store ornaments in special boxes. There are boxes specifically made for storing ornaments. If you have trouble finding one, try raiding the liquor store for boxes used to ship bottles or glasses. Then use old newspapers to cushion fragile ornaments.
• Got a fake tree? Use a tree storage bag. No, that dust does NOT look like snow. Protect your artificial tree in a bag to make sure it stays nice.