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Be Aware of Holiday Decorating Costs

The holidays are here! Many customers enjoy celebrating the holidays by decorating, baking and spending time with family and friends. Although enjoyable, these activities do affect the electric bill.

Most utility customers typically see their bills increase in the months of December and January. The increase in electric consumption is due to all of the extra activity that is going on during this time of the year. And yes, all of the little things going on in and around your residence can add up over the course of a month.

If you are concerned about the potential impact the holidays may have on your electric bill, there are measures that you can take to control the electric use during the holiday season. Most of the added electric use during the holiday season comes in the form of decorating.

The biggest impact is with the amount of holiday lights that customers install. There are several ways to control the electric use of the lighting. The first thing you can do is to reduce the number of strings of lights that you use. The next measure you can take is to control the operating time of the lights. This can be done by manually turning the lights on and off, or by using a timer to control the operation of the lights. The use of a timer is a very good idea to control the outside lights.

You can also reduce the electric consumption by reducing the wattage of the light strings. If you are still using the large (C-9) or medium (C-7) incandescent string of lights, you may want to consider switching to the miniature lights or the new, light emitting diode (LED) style lights. A 25-light string of C-9 or C-7 bulbs will consume approximately 225 watts or 175 watts of power. A 50-light string of miniature lights will consume approximately 25 watts of power. The LED style lights only consume about 3 watts of power. You may also want to consider reducing the wattage of any flood or spot lights that you use outside to accent your decorations.

The kitchen is another area where holiday electric consumption usually increases. There are several measures that you can use to reduce the electric consumption. One of the best ways to help reduce the cost is to try and complete most of your holiday baking in one or two "events". Try to complete multiple baking tasks while the oven is warm. Most items can be baked and frozen, and then used throughout the holidays.

When you are baking and cooking for the holidays (or at any time of the year) consider using your microwave and crock pot. The microwave can be used as an efficient alternative to a stove top burner, often reducing the use time. Crock pots offer an excellent way to prepare dishes while using very little amounts of electricity.

Another tip is to try to reduce the number of times that you open and close the refrigerator. Whenever possible, gather all of the products that you can from the refrigerator in one trip. Don't be afraid to fill up those refrigerators and freezers as they actually operate more efficiently when they are full.

Please review the following list to give you approximate costs to operate some products that are typically used during the holiday season. Your actual costs will be determined by the wattage of the equipment you use and the amount of time that you use the equipment.

  • Baking in the electric oven for one hour - $.23
  • Listening to holiday music for 5 hours - $.01
  • Watching a tape or DVD of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" or "The Santa Clause" - $.013
  • 100-ct string of miniature lights on for three hours - $.01
  • 25-ct string of C-7 lights on for one hour - $.01
  • 25-ct string of LED lights on for 50 hours - $.01
  • 150-watt spot light on for one hour - $.01
  • Air inflated Snowman or Santa one for one hour - $.015
  • Hanging icicle lights (same as miniature lights)
  • Motorized 3-D reindeer on for one hour - $.015

The following is an example of the approximate cost to decorate the outside of a house for the holiday season. A customer installs the following on the outside of their house: six strings of C-7 lights, four 100-ct strings of icicle lights, two 150-watt spot lights, three lighted 3-D holiday figures, and one inflatable holiday figure. The total wattage of this equipment is approximately 2,050 watts. For every hour this equipment is one the cost to the customer is $.132. The customer has the equipment on a time which allows the equipment to operate every day from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The cost to decorate the outside of this house for the holiday is approximately $.79 daily. If the decorations are used the whole month of December the added cost to the electric bill is $23.70. As you can see, the cost slowly adds up.

So, as you prepare for the holidays, be aware of the extra cost to enjoy some of life's simple holiday pleasures. If you have any questions please contact our office.


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