Bright Ideas for Staying Safe and Saving Energy this Holiday Season

PG&E Offers Ways to Save Money on Holiday Lighting and Avoid Safety Hazards

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Holiday lights brighten the home, but they can also add costs to energy bills and represent a fire hazard if not properly handled. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) provides customers with safety and energy efficiency reminders to get into the holiday spirit.

“We are focused on helping our customers make the holidays bright, safe and efficient,” said Chris Zenner, PG&E’s Vice President of Residential Services & Digital Channels. “We hope all of our customers use this information to have a safe and happy holiday season.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost one third of home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious.

For a fire-safe holiday season make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Also, purchase flame-retardant metallic or artificial trees. For real trees, make sure the tree has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily broken. And remember to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them water daily.

Adding to possible safety risks, older, non-energy-efficient lighting can severely impact customers’ monthly energy bills. Standard incandescent holiday lights, including mini lights, use more energy and may require frequent bulb replacements. LED lights cost more to purchase but use much less energy and can produce bright light for up to 20 holiday seasons.

Based on PG&E testing, a string of 300 large incandescent lights cost an average of $135.08 to operate annually for 225 hours per year (5 hours/day for 45 days) at the current residential electric non-CARE rate, compared to $0.83 to annually operate a LED 300 count light strand during the same timeframe.

Here are additional tips to keep customers safe during the holidays:

Holiday Lighting Safety

  • Check for overhead power lines before hanging outdoor lights, keeping at least 10 feet away from lines.
  • Make sure lights are approved for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outdoors.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s limits for the number of strings that can safely be connected.
  • Check strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation, or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires, so discard damaged sets of lights.
  • Don’t place cords under rugs, furniture, or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed, increasing the risk of fire.
  • Always turn off decorative lights—indoors and outdoors—when leaving the house and before going to bed.
  • 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.

Candle and Cooking Safety

  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. Start with a clean oven to reduce the risk of a grease fire.

More Ways to Save Energy

  • Set timers for lights to turn on and off automatically.
  • Save up to 30% by using smart power strips to plug in your holiday lights and décor.
  • Consider upgrading to smart thermostats to control and change the thermostat remotely.

To learn more about ways to save this holiday season visit

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit and


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