Article 1: Keep holiday light decorating safe, efficient, festive and fun
More than 86 percent of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations, according to a recent consumer survey from the Electrical Safety Foundation International. Customers can cut down on their energy use during the holidays by making smart lighting choices.
Benefits of using LED holiday lighting
Energy.gov cites many reasons to choose LED holiday lighting over incandescent lights. LEDs use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, they’re brighter, eco-friendly, and are safer, as they are much cooler than incandescent lights. In addition, they are easier to install—up to 24 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. They last ten times longer and have no filaments or glass to break. If you prefer white lights with the look of incandescent lights, look for “warm” white on the label.
Besides using LED holiday lights, here are some other ways to save energy.
- Limit usage: Set timers for lights to turn on and off automatically. Keep light displays on during the evening and turn them off overnight. Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night. You can save more by keeping light displays on only 8 hours of the evening (when you can see them).
- Get reflective: Shiny ornaments, tinsel and mirrors can multiply the effects of your lighting without using more energy. Be sure to keep tinsel away from pets, though. Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your resources for shine. Don’t forget the ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs, for electricity- free age-old traditions still bring holiday cheer.
Holiday lighting safety tips
- Plan ahead. Avoid overloading extension cords and wall sockets by following the manufacturer’s limits for the number of light strings that can be safely connected together.
- Hang lighting correctly. Make sure that no cords will be pinched by furniture or placed under rugs, furniture or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed, increasing the risk of fire.
- Avoid electric hazards outdoors. Before climbing ladders to string outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines on your roof or attached to your home. Keep at least 10 feet away from overhead lines at all times. Never place yourself or any object such as a string of lights in a position that risks contact with a power line—the result can be fatal.
- Use GFCI outlets. Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). How do you know if it’s a GFCI? Look for the “test” and “reset” buttons. If circuits are not GFCI-protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased.
- Check your environment outdoors. Before stringing lights on outdoor trees, make sure tree limbs haven’t grown into or near power lines. Branches, entire trees and even the ground adjacent to a tree can become energized when trees contact power lines.
- Put your tree in a safe location. Do not place your holiday tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, making it more susceptible to fires caused by heat, flame or sparks.
- Check condition of lights. Inspect light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires, so discard damaged sets of lights.
- Read the labels. Be sure to check each product label to see whether the lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use. Make sure lights have a tag indicating they have been evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory.
Article 2: Save 30% or more on your monthly energy bill
SDG&E offers several Assistance Programs to help lower your monthly bill while making your home more comfortable. Read more to determine if you qualify:
- CARE: With the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program, you can save every month on your bill. Eligibility is based on participation in certain public assistance programs or current household income and the number of people living in your home. To apply call 1.877.646.5525 or connect at sdge.com/care.
- Medical Baseline: This Program has helped over 30,000 people – who have a qualifying medical need or medical device – to lower their energy costs. Contact us if someone in your household has:
- A compromised immune system or life-threatening illness
- Any condition where additional heating and air conditioning is medically necessary to sustain a person’s life
- One of the qualifying devices listed on the application
Household income is not a factor for qualifying, but a doctor’s certification on the application is required. To apply call 1.800.411.7343 or connect at sdge.com/medicalbaseline.
- Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program: We’ll provide free energy-saving improvements to your apartment, condo, house or mobile home. You may receive free lighting, furnace repair, weather-stripping, attic insulation and select free appliances such as a refrigerator. Call 1.866.597.0597 or connect at com/ESAP to find out if you qualify. Renters need permission from their landlords to receive these free services.
Article 3: It’s time to start thinking about energy differently
New plans based on the time of day
To support the statewide commitment to reliable and sustainable energy, new time of use pricing plans are being introduced to residential customers over the next few years. These plans are based on how much and when you use energy, and offer you more choices on how to better manage and control your energy costs.
How do these plans work?
The plans are different from our current standard tiered option, which is solely based on how much energy you use. Time of use plans also consider the time of day that you are using energy. This allows you two ways to save – by shifting your electricity use to lower cost hours of the day or to reduce your overall usage.
During the on-peak hours of 4 pm to 9 pm, increased demand on the electric grid means a higher cost to produce and deliver electricity to you. So, by shifting your use to off-peak hours, when there is less demand, the cost of electricity is less.
Why are on-peak hours from 4 pm to 9 pm?
As more Southern Californians generate their own solar or wind power, and as utilities put more renewable energy on the grid to serve its customers, the on-peak – or higher demand hours – for electricity are changing to late afternoon and early evening.
Once you enroll in a time of use plan, when you shift your energy use to off-peak hours, you not only pay less but also help decrease the demand on the electric grid, which ultimately benefits the environment.
For more information, visit sdge.com/touplans.
Article 5: EcoChoice
SDG&E’s EcoChoice program gives customers the option to purchase up to 100% clean, renewable energy. The program may be a good option for those who rent or don’t have the ability to adopt solar due to costs or the inability to put panels on their rooftop. With EcoChoice, there’s no upfront installation cost and you’re supporting clean, renewable energy in our community. Those who enroll will pay a small premium every month depending on their subscription level. Customers can visit our online calculator to estimate how much it will cost each month to purchase renewable energy through the program. Customers can also enroll online. For more information, visit sdge.com/ecochoice.