12.01.2018

Avoiding an Electrical Catastrophe this Christmas

Leaves are falling, it’s getting cold outside, the children’s Halloween costumes are packed up and stowed away. We all know what this means; the holiday season is upon us. People are beginning to decorate their homes for Christmas (depending on whether you are a pre- or post-thanksgiving decorator). For most, this is the most exciting time of the year. Unfortunately for many, decorating can mean disaster.

The amount of electricity used during the holidays to keep your house the brightest in the neighborhood is often much more than your house was built to handle. Especially in older buildings, the electrical system that your house runs on is only meant to support everyday activity without an additional thousand red and green lights illuminating your home. Additionally, when family and visitors come into town, the electricity demands from appliances and other electronics in your home spike. People often forget this and end up damaging their homes electrical system, starting a house fire or losing power by going overboard with electricity usage.

An average outlet inside your home contains 15 amps of electricity, which has the ability to support around 1,500 watts of energy consumption. To give reference, one string of incandescent Christmas tree light requires about 400 watts to light up. This means that only 4 strings of lights can safely be used per outlet. When this number is exceeded, you may “trip your breakers” ––a safety measure designed to prevent you from going over your homes electrical capacity. If your homes breakers are old or just malfunctioning, plugging in too many lights can mean short circuiting your homes electrical system and causing serious damage. If this happens to you, reach out to a close by electrician. Electrical repairs are never a D.I.Y. project; serious training and experience are required to properly repair electrical issues.

If there is simply no room to cut back on your Christmas lights this year, consider some more efficient options. LED Christmas lights are sold almost everywhere regular lights are and use less than 20% of the energy that traditional incandescent lights so. With this kind of energy saving, you could have up to 20 strands of Christmas lights safely plugged into one outlet. LED lights also last much longer than regular incandescent lights, so the extra money spent ends up paying dividends when your house remains well-lit all through the holidays. For those of us whose home resembles Clark Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation, consulting with a local residential electrician and using LED lights can ensure your holidays are safe and budget friendly.

The holidays are a time to spread joy and cheer. However, thousands of homes across the country suffer from electrical issues every holiday season and hundreds experience fire damage from short circuiting over-used outlets. Your family could be one string of Christmas tree lights away from a disaster this December! Take the necessary steps to ensure your family remains comfortable by being considerate of your energy usage.

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