7 Tips To Avoid A Clark Griswold Faux Pas

Dec 4, 2018 | 3 comments

Everyone knows the classic Christmas lighting faux pas scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” As hilarious as the movies are, here’s seven tips how to not be Clark Griswold this holiday season.


Switch to LED lights. LED lights use 75% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs, last up to 10 times longer, and are cool to the touch.  LEDs are very durable.  Most are made of plastic which makes more difficult to break and don’t have filaments like incandescent bulbs. This means lower energy costs, fewer replacements and no heat!

Test the lights. Before you plug them in, visually inspect the light strings, looking for broken or missing bulbs and worn or defective wiring. If you discover faulty wires, replace the string entirely as this could present a fire hazard. If bulbs are broken or missing, replace them, then plug them in to make sure all your bulbs are working.


Be cautious when installing outdoor lighting. Use a good ladder when installing your lights. Secure them with insulated holders (never use staples, tacks or nails). Don’t install your lights on trees that could come in contact with power lines.  Also, when you’re buying Holiday lights to use outside, make sure they are rated for outdoor use – never use indoor Holiday lights outdoors.

Buy quality lights. There is a variety of lights to choose from. Look for lights with a tag marked Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This means the lights meet national industry standards with the American National Standards Institute. Look for ENERGY STAR® labeled LED Decorative Light Strings. Earning the ENERGY STAR label means the product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 


Unplug or turn off at night. Since nearly half of all Christmas tree fires involve electrical malfunctions, turn off all lights on trees and other decorations before going to bed, and don’t leave them on when you’re away from home.

Set a timer. Once all the lights are up, plug them into timer. Set an outdoor timer to turn the lights on daily at dusk and off at midnight, which will save on energy, yet stay on late enough for everyone who drives by to enjoy.


Be prepared for a higher bill. You don’t need to read your electric bill to know that Holiday lights can draw a great deal of power. When you add up all the additional lights and decorations that plug into outlets, the results can be startling.  Be safe, have fun, but remember – all of this will impact your electric usage!

Happy Holidays from your friends at CU!