You’ve been putting it off for too long. Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday is over. Every house on your block is lit up, yet yours sits in the dark.
You want your house to look festive, but you’re also wondering how to do that without blowing fuses or tripping your circuit breaker.
To which we say: Don’t worry. With proper planning, a little research and a trip to your hardware supply store, you can have the brightest house on the block.
Have a plan for where you want to hang your lights. Pick a focal point. It could be along your eaves or roofline, on top of bushes, trees and hedges, around your porch railing, or framing your windows, doorframes and planters (or some combination of any of these).
Make sure you measure any spaces where you want to hang lights to tell you how many strands you need, while also measuring the distance to your power source. You’ll want to be sure you can actually plug the lights in.
From there, considering the following:
- Your safety needs – Head to your hardware supply store to find a reliable ladder, extension cords with a UL-rating and lights approved for indoor and outdoor use. Make sure none of your cords or wires are torn.
- Your light color – Even white lights aren’t precisely white. Classic incandescent bulbs have an orangish hue, while LED lights can appear sort of blue. If they’re hung side by side, they’ll seem mismatched. Avoid this problem by investing in new lights.
- LED or incandescent – LED lights will help you cut down on your electric bill, and you won’t need to worry about them overheating.
- Hanging the lights – This year, invest in light clips. It’s easier than struggling with staples or relying on clothespins to hold the lights in place.
Hanging the lights
The first thing you should do is decide where you’ll be working and gather all the supplies you need. It will help to work with someone else, especially if you’ll be climbing a ladder.
Test your lights before you hang them by plugging them in. The last thing you need is to discover you have a burned out bulb or a non-working strand after you’ve hung your lights. Even if you’ve just brought them home from your hardware supply store, test the lights.
You may also want to invest in an outdoor timer that will automatically turn your lights on and off. That way you won’t wake up at 7 a.m. to find the lights still glowing or go to bed realizing that you never switched them on.
How will my lights affect my electric bill?
People joke about Christmas lights being visible from space, but according to NASA, it’s no joke. In 2014, the space agency reported that nighttime lights shine 20 to 50 percent brighter around many American cities during Christmas and New Year’s.
How does all that light impact the average residential electric bill? The Washington Post’s Wonkblog did the math last year on the rough cost of running different types of lights. They assumed a price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour, with the lights illuminated 12 hours a day for 45 days:
- A straight of 25 C9 incandescent bulbs — $15.12
- A string of 100 mini incandescent bulbs — $3.53
- A string of 25 C9 LED bulbs – 21 cents
- A string of 100 mini LED bulbs – 41 cents
How many lights can my house handle?
The number of holiday lights you can plug into one circuit depends on a few different factors:
- The amperage of the circuit (most homes have 15 or 20 amp circuits)
- The types of lights you’ll be using
- Whether you have anything else running off that circuit such as appliances or indoor lights
To figure out the number of lights a circuit can handle, you’ll need to do some math, figuring out how many watts the circuit can take.
The equation works like this: volts X amps = watts.
Like we said, most homes are 15 or 20 amps, while household outlets are 120 volts. Therefore, a 20-amp circuit could handle 2,400 watts at most. Err on the side of safety and only load your circuits to about 80 percent of their capacity.
Do you still have questions about which lights will work best for your home? Turn to Yardville Supply, where you’ll find an array of holiday décor, extension cords and other hardware supply equipment to help your home look its best – and brightest – this season.