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Holiday Safety and Energy Efficiency Tips from National Grid

December 22, 2010

Festive can also be safe.

National Grid, the northeast energy giant serving over three million customers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York, has released a list of tips for customers to consider while preparing for and enjoying the holidays. National Grid’s tips, from using energy-saving lights to making intuitive safety choices, can help customers ensure a more environmentally friendly, safe, and cost-effective season.

Consumers have more lighting alternatives than ever, and National Grid has outlined the potential costs associated with a number of them:

“Traditional Lights: Use about ten watts per bulb. A typical residential customer will pay $37.50 per month to operate ten strings of twenty-five traditional bulbs.

Miniature Lights and Icicle Lights: The average miniature light uses 0.4 watts per bulb. Operating ten strings of the bulbs, at one hundred bulbs per string, will cost the typical residential customer $6 per month. A string of icicle lights with one hundred bulbs will cover a much shorter distance than a straight string of miniature lights.

LED Lights: Light Emitting Diode lights use only 0.04 watts per bulb, or 1/10 the amount of miniature bulbs. Due to their solid-state construction, these bulbs are safer and more durable. Ten sets of one hundred of these LED bulbs will cost the typical residential customer sixty cents per month to operate.

Regardless of the lights you choose, additional energy and cost can be saved by turning lights off and unplugging them before going to bed, or installing an automatic timer that can reduce power usage by turning the lights on at dusk and turning them off at a desired time. Also, consider using fewer lights and more decorations that do not use energy-such as wreaths or poinsettias.”

Among National Grid’s tips are energy-use projections for yard inflatables:

“Yard inflatables range from simple blow-up cartoon characters to eight-foot-tall globes with rotating figures, blowing snow, and lights. Large globes consume about one hundred and fifty watts per hour, while rotating carousels consume around two hundred watts. At sixteen hours per day, the total cost of electricity could be $10 per inflatable, per month.”

Some safety reminders are included. These are for decorating safely:

“Avoid Overhead Lines: Overhead power lines are NOT insulated and carry enough energy to cause serious injury or even death. Never use an aluminum ladder within ten feet of power lines, and keep yourself and holiday decorations at least ten feet away from residential electric lines and equipment.

Approved Lighting: Make sure your lights have a safety listing from a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). A safety approval seal means the lights have been tested and are safe to use. Use lights only as intended. Always unplug your lights before going to bed or leaving home.

Outdoor Connections: Plug outdoor lights into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, which are available at hardware and electrical supply stores. If there is an electrical fault with a light string, GFCIs will automatically shut off the electricity well before any electric shock could occur. Also, cover outdoor plugs and connector joints with a water-resistant layer of plastic wrap and electrical tape.

Christmas Trees: If you have an artificial tree, make sure it’s been tested for flammability by U.L. To prevent electrical shock, never use electric decorations on artificial trees with metallic needles, leaves or branches. Instead, place colored spotlights above or beside the tree-never attached to it. Keep your natural tree well-watered to prevent bulbs from igniting dry branches. Keep extension cords and light sets away from the tree stand.

Don’t Overload: Don’t overload your electric circuits. Check your fuse or breaker panel to see how much your home can handle and stay well within limits.

Avoid Shock: Make sure there’s a bulb in each socket. If a bulb has burned out, leave it in until you have a replacement.”

Other tips from National Grid for having a holiday season that is safe, energy-efficient, and as cost-efficient as possible:

“Holiday Cooking: Using the smallest appliance for the job while cooking during the holidays will always save energy. For example, microwave ovens use less than half the energy required by a conventional oven. Use the smallest pan and burner needed for the job. Cook with lids on your pans. For example, cooking pasta without a lid on the pot can use three times as much energy.

Smart Baking: To improve oven efficiency, keep the doors closed as much as possible and bake several dishes at the same time and temperature. Every time the door is opened, heat escapes. If the oven self-cleans, turn it on just after taking out the holiday cookie cut-outs, while the oven is still hot.

Storing the Feast: Keep extra beverages and holiday leftovers cold by storing them in your garage or on the porch, if temperatures permit. Unplugging that second refrigerator saves $23 per month on the electricity bill. Also, defrosting frozen food in the refrigerator helps keep the refrigerator cold.”

National Grid has a twenty-year track record of partnering with its U.S. customers to provide efficiency programs. These programs have helped save customers nearly 565 million therms of natural gas, and approximately $876 million on their heating bills. To learn more about energy efficiency programs in your area, visit National Grid’s energy efficiency Web site at www.powerofaction.com.

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