Temperatures are dropping, holiday displays are going up and this means residents are using more electricity than normal to make their holiday season warm and bright.

Jeff Shepard, a spokesperson with Mississippi Power, said the company typically sees an increase in usage during the peak winter months of January and February.

April Lollar, a communication specialist at Coast Electric Power Association, said the increase in electricity usage is more related to the cold weather, especially over the last few years.

“Coast Electric does see more use in cold weather, but that is really due to people running the heat in their homes, more so than light displays,” Lollar said. “Of course, those who do have light displays will see their use increase, but it would still be less than, for example, someone who runs a pool pump.”

She recommends setting the thermostat at 68 degrees during the winter months to help conserve on your electricity.

With lighting getting more and more cost efficient each year, there are ways for residents to keep their electricity bills from skyrocketing in December when their lights are on display.

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“Using the latest technology such as LED lights, which use approximately 90 percent less electricity than regular lights, and limiting the time that lights are on are two easy steps people can take to manage their energy costs during the holiday season,” Shepard said.

Lollar said LED lights have an operational life of about 20,000 hours, which should last about 40 holiday seasons. They are more resistant to breaking because they don’t have glass or filaments. Because LEDs use less energy, they are safer to connect multiple strands end-to-end without overloading wall sockets. They also are cooler to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.

Shepard said that Mississippi Power has seen only a slight decrease in the amount of electricity customers use because, despite the increased popularity of LED lights, many residents still use “the traditional type of holiday lighting.”

“Those who want to keep costs down should consider using LED lights for their displays. While they do cost more per strand, they tend to last longer and use less energy. Shepard said most of the calls the company receives during the holiday season is because customers’ lights will flicker if circuits are overloaded. He said to avoid this problem, use properly rated extension cords and plug lights into multiple outlets.

Safety tips

  • Be cautious when installing exterior lights, especially if a ladder is required.
  • Don’t install lights on the service mast or in close proximity to the electrical wires providing power to your home.
  • Use UL rated extension cords only. UL is an independent safety science company that promotes safe living and working environments.
  • Don’t overload extension cords or circuits and make sure lights are rated for where they will be displayed (Interior vs. Exterior).
  • . Replace strands that show any signs damage, broken bulbs, or loose connections.
  • Never leave lights on overnight when no one is home.
  • Make sure an artificial tree is fire resistant, but be aware that fire resistant doesn’t mean fire proof.
  • If a live tree, make sure it is fresh and green. Water the live tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.
  • Don’t place trees close to heat sources, such as fireplace, vents or radiators.Select gifts that are age appropriate for the recipient. Toys recommended for older children pose risks for younger children to use safely.
  • Educate children on electrical safety when using any new toy or product that requires an electrical connection.

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