BRIGHT IDEAS: Solutions to keep Christmas bright, warm but save money, too

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CHRISTMAS CHEER: Pictured, a home decorated with Christmas lights last year. File photo.

CHRISTMAS CHEER: Pictured, a home decorated with Christmas lights last year. File photo.

With Christmas around the corner, homeowners have begun to deck their homes with festive lights and turn on heaters in order to keep warm during the cold winter nights. In an effort to keep the electricity bill relatively low this season, local power companies are suggesting ways customers can enjoy the holidays without the stress of high electric bills.

Jeff Shepard, spokesman for Mississippi Power, said homeowners can save on electricity by adorning their home with LED Christmas lights versus the traditional incandescent bulbs.

“Another thing is using a timer to set the lights on and off, which would lower energy consumption,” Shepard said.

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LED lights use 70 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent lights, said April Lollar, media services executive at Coast Electric Power Association.

Both companies advise customers to handle Christmas lights with care, especially if the lights have been in storage all year.

“A lot of people use the same lights year after year. We recommend them to take a few minutes to inspect the lights and make sure they haven’t worn,” Lollar said.

Shepard added that people should avoid overloading electrical circuits, which could serve as a fire hazard.

“You want to avoid having five or six plugs in and around one outlet,” Shepard said.

There are other factors that play a large role in a power customer’s bill, especially during winter. Lollar recommends people keep a close watch on their thermostat.

“Heating and cooling makes up half the bill. The thermostat, when on heat, should be set to 68 degrees,” Lollar said.

Customers with Coast Electric have the option to apply for the company’s

time-of-use electric rate in order to reduce their annual energy costs.

Lollar said that by reducing their electric use during peak times, between 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday, customers will have the opportunity to reduce costs without reducing their energy consumption. If a customer uses electricity at off-peaks times, their rate will be lower than the standard rate. During on-peak hours, when electricity is in high demand, it will cost more than the off-peak rate, according to Coast Electric’s website.

Additional tips to help lower the power bill this season include, keeping fireplace dampers closed when the fireplace isn’t in use in order to prevent heat loss and seal the cracks around doors and windows with caulk to prevent any drafts.

“Customers have more control over their power than they think they do,” Shepard said.

Lollar added, “If you can do these things, it’s not going to mean you’re going to have the lowest bill, but it will help.”

For more information on energy saving tips this holiday season, visit