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Progress Energy offers holiday lighting safety and efficiency tips

RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 2, 2011) – It’s the time of year when homes come alive with lights and displays to celebrate the holiday season. But all those lights can use a lot of energy, which can lead to a not-so-happy holiday bill.

Progress Energy offers tips to help customers brighten up their homes safely and without burning a hole in their budget.

  • Plug outdoor lighting displays into a timer set for the early evening hours. If you don't use timers, unplug your lights before you go to bed or leave home.
  • Plug holiday lights and other electronic decorations into a power strip to make it convenient to turn them all off before bedtime and to boost energy savings.
  • Enhance your tree with tinsel, mirrored ornaments or other reflective items. They can brighten up the tree without having to add more lights.
  • Switch to energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting this season. LED lighting strands cost more up front, but save 90 percent or more of the electricity it takes to power incandescent light strands. LEDs are encased in hard-to-break plastic and can operate for more than 100,000 hours. They also produce less heat than traditional lighting, reducing the risk of circuit overloading and fire.

Celebrate the season safely

Since many holiday displays use electricity, Progress Energy encourages customers to take these precautions to ensure decorations are installed and used safely:

Safety inside the home

  • Select trees that are fresh and do not contain dry or brown limbs. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
  • Avoid placing trees or other live greenery near heat sources, such as fireplaces, space heaters or vents.
  • Ensure that artificial trees have been tested and labeled as fire resistant.
  • Check holiday lighting packages to determine the maximum number of strands that may be linked together safely. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Inspect light strands to ensure there are no electrical problems or damage to the wiring before using.
  • Avoid connecting light sets with different numbers of bulbs as they may have different electrical requirements.
  • Don’t place cords underneath rugs, furniture or appliances. Doing so can cause cords to overheat or become frayed, possibly resulting in a fire. Also, take care when routing cords so that they do not become a tripping hazard. 
  • Check all extension cords for fraying, cracks or loose connections. When in doubt, replace old extension cords.
  • Don’t bunch lights too closely together. Doing so can generate excessive heat that can melt insulation and expose live wires.
  • Always turn off decorative lighting when you go to bed or leave the house.

Safety outside the home

  • Use only lights specifically designed for outdoor use.
  • When installing lights, use caution under overhanging power lines, especially when using a ladder. Scope the area, including the ground and overhead, before installation.
  • Never staple or nail through extension cords or holiday lighting wires, as doing so could damage wires and insulation, resulting in electric shock or fire.
  • Always use outdoor-rated extension cords and make sure that the current rating (in amps or “A”) of the device you are plugging in does not exceed the rating on the extension cord. Overloading extension cords can cause overheating of the cord.
  • Ensure that wires and lighting are not placed in areas prone to standing water or flooding.
  • Check all extension cords and light strands for fraying, cracks or loose connections as they can result in electric shock or fire.
  • Always turn off all outdoor decorative lighting when you go to bed or leave the house.    

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with more than 22,000 megawatts of generation capacity and approximately $10 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve about 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The company has earned the Edison Electric Institute's Edison Award, the industry's highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence, and was the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder's Award for customer service. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s website at


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