Tis the Season for Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Holiday season calls for festive decorating around the house. Whether you’re setting up your Christmas tree or putting up lights outside, here are some helpful hints to help you decorate around the home.

Picking Out Christmas Lights

There are a couple different lights to choose from. We’ll tell you the difference so you can know what you’re looking at when you go to the store.

Types of Lights

  • Incandescent String Lights – Inexpensive and have been standard for years. Variety of styles and colors available.
  • LED (light-emitting diode) lights – LEDs are initially more expensive than incandescents, but are 85% more energy efficient and can last up to 40 holiday seasons. They also remain cool to the touch. They give off a bright light with various shapes and colors.
  • White Lights – White light gives your tree a classic look without distracting from your ornaments.
  • Colored Lights – Multicolored lights give your tree a more vintage look. Lights can also come in a string of one color (pink, purple, blue, etc).

Size of Light Bulbs 

C9 & C7 – C standards for cone shaped. C9 light bulbs are over 2” long and fit an E17 base. C7 are smaller than the C9 bulbs. They have an E12 base (the same as a nightlight). They are about 1 ½” long.

C9 and C7 lightbulb

Both the C7 and C9 light bulb types are pretty and can double as an ornament. In the traditional, incandescent style, they put off a lot of a heat. Because of the high heat that is put off from the lights, it is recommended to not decorate your tree with either of these “C” shaped lightbulbs. They do come in LED options if you like the look on your tree.

Mini lights – this size of lights is what is recommended for your Christmas tree.

Tip: Pets or small children will grab at low hanging ornaments or lights. Keep that in mind when decorating.

How many lights do you need for your tree?

A go-to rule is 100 lights for every-foot-and-a-half of tree. To make your tree extra lit, an additional strand of lights to wrap around the trunk of the tree would be recommended. Below is a quick estimate for each size of Christmas tree height.

How many lights do  you need for your tree?

Tree Height        # Mini Lights            5mm LEDs              C7 Bulbs

4′                             400                               300                           25
6′                             600                               450                           50
8’                             800                               600                           100
10’                           1,000                            750                           150
12’                           1,200                            900                           200
14′                           1,500                            1,125                        250
20′                            2,000                           1,500                        480

Tip: Position your tree about 2 feet from a corner or wall so you can easily access the back of the tree as you place the lights and ornaments.

Tip: Purchase a timer to help you utilize your Christmas lights to their fullest as well as saving money on your electricity bill.

Calculate your Electricity Usage Cost

  1. Know your wattage (you can check it on the lights box package or online).
  2. Take your wattage and multiply 0.001 to find kwh (kilo-watt hour)
  3. Multiply by your average of having your lights on (5 is pretty standard) to find the kwh/day.
  4. Multiply by 30 (for how many days in the holiday season) to find the kwh/season.
  5. Multiply by 11.3 cents (or whatever your rate is) to calculate your cost.

The Formulas visualized:
Watts x 0.001 = kwh
Kwh x 5 hours a day = kwh/day
Kwh/day x 30 days = kwh/season
Kwh/season x .113 cents = cost

5 Useful Kitchen Gadgets to Make Thanksgiving Easy

Kitchen Gadgets

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time if you aren’t prepared. We have put together a list of helpful gadgets that can make your holiday cooking a little less nerve-wracking.

Food timers
Are you cooking multiple things for the holidays? We bet you are. Having multiple kitchen timers will prevent your food from over, or under, cooking and letting you know when you need to remove one of your dishes.

Microwave
Even though the microwave may be scoffed at, it actually is really helpful when preparing Thanksgiving dinner. It consumes half the energy of a conventional oven and cooks faster, which saves time. It’s also great for pre-made foods like your gravy for your mashed potatoes or to warm up the rolls. Yum!

Convection Oven
Having a second oven is useful when cooking a large dinner. Convection ovens also have been known to save 20% of your oven-related energy costs because of how the convection oven cooks.

Food Processor Use the food processor to help speed up chopping vegetables, crushing ice, chopping nuts, mixing pie crust, or whatever else you can think of using it for.

Digital Meat Thermometer
This is a life saver if you don’t want to cut into the turkey early but don’t trust that golden brown crisp. Digital thermometers with the probe that sticks into the bird will provide you a faster result than traditional thermometers, which will let the meat start cooling down by the time it give you a result. The minimum safe internal temperature is 165 degrees.

If you are looking for additional money saving tips, check out our 15 Tips to Make Using Your Oven Energy Efficient.

15 Energy Efficiency Tips for your Oven

Oven Tips

What is this time of year best known for? Large home cooked meals for the family. With the holiday season approaching, we will be using our stoves more often. Here are 15 tips to help make Thanksgiving more affordable.

  1. You are making multiple sides – make them at the same time.
    By putting multiple things in the oven at the same time, you save time and energy use.
  2. Skip preheating
    Unless your food is temperature specific, you can skip the wait and cook immediately.
  3. Keep that door closed!
    Opening the oven will cause it to lose heat, making the cooking time take longer. If you need to check something, turn on the oven lamp, but don’t open the door until the timer goes off.
  4. Utilize the oven racks
    Each oven rack has its own purpose. Use them to the maximum benefit by remembering which rack is meant for what.Top rack: High temperatures, quick cooking.
    Middle rack: Moderate temperature cooking.
    Bottom rack: Slow cooking and low temperature cooking.
  5. A clean stove is an energy-efficient stove
    Cleaning your stove makes it easier to clean your stove each time. If there is buildup of food inside the oven, it becomes harder to remove and you will have to have to use more expensive and abrasive cleaners to remove it.
  6. Choose the right baking dish
    Glass or ceramic baking dishes are more proficient at retaining heat. You will be able to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees and it will still cook just as quickly.
  7. Don’t use foil lining in the oven
    Some people line their oven racks with foil to keep them clean and to increase cooking time. Foil blocks heat and makes it less efficient. Foil can be used for the food, but don’t line your oven racks.
  8. Stagger pans
    Staggering the pans in the oven will increase the oven’s ability to cook the food evenly by maximizing the air flow.
  9. Make more food – double the amount
    Having leftovers is the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. Microwaves or convection ovens are much more energy efficient and cost effective than the oven. Make more food so you don’t have to cook later in the week.
  10. Self clean the oven – after cooking
    If your oven has a self-clean feature, it uses heat. After cooking, go ahead and turn it on the self-clean feature to use the residual heat that the oven already has.
  11. Don’t cook frozen
    It’s not science, it’s fact! Frozen food takes longer to cook. If it’s possible, defrost your food in the fridge prior to cooking.
  12. Check the seal on your oven
    Is the seal around your oven still in good shape? It might be good to check it to make sure it’s still in looking good. A seal that is tearing, loose, or dirty will let heat out of the oven which isn’t good for the cooking time of your food or your energy bill.
  13. Calibrate the heat
    By using a cheap thermometer, you can tell easily if your oven is heating up to the requested temperature easily. Cooking at the right temperature saves your food and your money.
  14. Keep it Covered
    If you have food that can be covered, use foil or a lid. It will keep the heat inside the covered dish so you don’t have to reheat it immediately and it will assist in the speed of cooking.
  15. Time cooking (turn it off early)
    Just like skipping preheating, if your food isn’t temperature sensitive, you can turn off the stove early so you can use the residual heat to finish cooking your dishes.