Light up your home this Christmas
We have just bought our first cottage and we really want to decorate it with lights for the holidays. Do you have any ideas and/or safety tips for us?
Dear First-Time Buyers,
Congratulations, and I hope you are enjoying your new home. Holiday lights take time, effort and planning. If you’re going to do it, here are some tips and tricks to help ensure that your lights are festive and safe this holiday season:
• Safety first
Before planning a design and pulling out the ladder, inspect your holiday lighting supplies for any electrical concerns.
You want to plug any lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. This outlet is designed to shut off the power when it detects a current flowing along an unintended path. This feature helps prevent electrical shock and house fires. You can recognise these outlets because they have a “test” button on them (like the ones in your kitchen and bathroom). Before you start plugging in lights, test these outlets to ensure that they are working correctly. If you have any concerns, contact an electrician.
2. Extension cords
Check that your extension cords are UL-certified for how you are planning to use them. You want to look at whether they are for indoor or outdoor use. You can find cords of all lengths, colours and widths that will do the job safely.
3. Light strings
Replace any light strings with damaged or frayed installation. It’s not worth your house or shed burning down or risking harming someone. They aren’t really meant to be repaired. If it’s only one bad bulb, you can replace that without replacing the whole light string. At this time, you’ll also want to check if your light strings are UL-certified. Indoor lights will have a green UL tag or a silver tag with “UL” in green. Outdoor lights will have a red UL tag or a silver tag with “UL” written in red. Even if you found the best deal in town, you don’t want to use them if they aren’t UL-listed. If you’re looking to replace, look for an LED option, as they consume less power and have a lower risk of fire.
Before you step on the ladder, inspect it for damage and ensure that it can support your weight. Ensure that the bottom legs are on solid, level ground and never stand on the top two rungs.
5. Connecting light strings
While it might seem efficient or be easier to string a bunch of lights together, it is best to have a limit of three. The first string will be carrying a heavier electrical load and can get overloaded and start to melt. To get around this, plug a power strip into the GFCI outlet and work from there. Then, homeowners can use extension cords to connect shorter strings of light to the power source.
6. Hanging materials
Avoid using metal objects, such as staples or nails, when hanging your holiday lights. These materials can dig into cord insulation and trip the GFCI outlet, causing your lights to go dark. If you just spent hours putting them up, the last thing you want to do is spend hours troubleshooting.
Using a timer can save time and money. You can programme the lights to turn on and off automatically and not run all night. When you pick a timer, check that it can support the number of lights you plan to use.
When it comes to lights, LEDs are the way to go. They can cost more than regular incandescent bulbs but they are more efficient, more durable and last longer. For those who have concerns about bright LED lights, look for different options or update the ones you have. In the past few years, the quality and options have improved.
In the past three years there has been more demand for coloured lights. For a long time, everything was warm white lights on houses, trees, shrubs and fences, however people starting adding colour. Red and green are the most popular.
Figurines, inflated characters and silhouette displays have also increased in popularity during the past three holiday seasons. These additions are great for areas of your home that don’t have any trees or places to naturally hang lights. They also give your home a little more personality.
• Light clips
If you’re looking for crisp, clean lines and lights that all face the same direction, invest in light clips. They come in all sizes and latch onto pretty much anything. You can even find magnetic options and ones that suction to windows. Zip ties are a good option if there is something to attach them to. Your lights can really show off the roofline and architecture of your home if done right.
• Wreath lighting
Avoid having cords hanging from your wreath by using battery-operated lights. It will mean, however, that you will need to monitor the batteries and that you might not be able to find lights that exactly match the rest of your exterior lights.
• Large tree lighting
Avoid trying to swirl lights around the canopy of a large outdoor tree. Start at the top and evenly distribute the lights in a random pattern. You don’t need to cover every inch of the tree. Twenty per cent coverage is plenty and will still look great. You can also inject some colour by making every third light red or by using multicoloured light strings for a more random look.
• Extension cord tips
To get lights to your tree you’ll need an extension cord. You can find green cords to run between the grass and sidewalk, or brown cords that camouflage into paths.
You can also keep cords out of sight more, by running them around the back of the house or up the back of the house to the roof, depending on your power source needs.
Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 28 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate
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