Anyone who’s seen the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation remembers the classic scene when Clark W. Griswold finally gets the Christmas lights strung painstakingly over every surface of his house to turn on.
The angels sing; his neighbors are blinded.
While few people will go to that extreme, it is easy to get carried away, with high energy bills an unintended consequence.
Duke Energy published a calculator on their website aimed at helping customers reduce their costs during the season of light.
“An easy way to save money during the holidays is to estimate your energy costs before decorating to incorporate budget-friendly lighting options,” Sasha Weintraub, Duke Energy senior vice president of customer solutions, said in a statement.
“That way you can still dazzle your friends and neighbors with your holiday decorations and save energy and money.”
The calculator lets users identify the type of lights, the number of 100-bulb strands and how many hours the lights will be used per day to estimate the energy cost per day and per month.
Based on their selections, customers can receive energy-efficient tips and options.
The calculator makes apparent that using LED bulbs is a first step towards making a big cost cut.
In Christmas Vacation, Griswold announces that he used 250 strings of lights in his creation. At 100 bulbs per string, that’s 25,000 incandescent bulbs.
If the Griswold’s lights were left on overnight, or 12 hours a day, according to the calculator the monthly energy cost would be $210 per day and $6,300 per month. The only energy saving solution recommended on the website was switching to LED lights, which would reduce the cost to $300 per day and $900 per month.
If Griswold only ran his lights for 6 hours, such as from 6 p.m. to midnight, his bill would be cut in half.
Griswold can be used as a cautionary tale when it comes to safety: he staples light cords to the roof, overloads extension cords and winds up dangling from the gutters when his ladder falls.
While the movie character quickly recovers from mishaps, and his house doesn’t burn down when the tree goes up in flames, real-life accidents aren’t usually as funny.
The energy company offered the following tips for the Clark Griswold in your family:
• Before installing lights, check each set — new and old — for damaged sockets, loose connections and frayed or bare wires. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
• Never use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
• Plug exterior lights into ground-fault interruptible (GFI) outlets only. If the home lacks outside GFI outlets, call an electrician to install them.
• Before climbing a ladder, inspect it to ensure it’s in good working condition and follow the weight limits specified on the ladder. Ladders that 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’s designed.
• Never use a ladder on or near power lines.
Cold weather money-saving tips
• Select the lowest comfortable setting when you’re home, then lower the temperature a degree or two when you leave.
• Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.
• Inefficient heating can also add to monthly power bills during colder temperatures. Regular service calls from a licensed technician will help to properly maintain your heating and cooling system.
• The ceiling fan is a great way to stay warm in the winter. Simply set the fans to operate in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.
• On sunny days, leave your drapes or blinds open to allow the sun’s rays to warm the house.
• Unplug energy vampires that use electricity even when powered off or in standby mode. Calculate usage costs for common energy vampires here: www.duke-energy.com/energyvampire.
• Wear warm clothing for additional energy savings at home. If you’re planning a holiday party this season, consider an ugly sweater theme. That way, you can bump down the thermostat a degree or two while your guest stay toasty and warm.
Reach Terri Flagg at415-4734.