Holiday spirits can cost you bucks

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2003

Every year around this time, you have a certain group of people that really, really get in the holiday spirit. This group of residents sees their electric bill skyrocket over last month’s bill because their using so much power to keep their Christmas lights going.

One of these certain residents is Rosa Collier. Collier has been turning her home on 811 4th Avenue into a winter wonderland now for the past 20 years.

Collier has thousands of lights strung around her home as well as a collection of big inflatable Santas, snowmen and Christmas Polar Bears in her yard. She also has along with everything else something that really stands out as the prized item in her Christmas showcase. This item is a train set that is covered in lights and really moves, like it is chugging along on its’ tracks and delivering presents to the North Pole and is currently displayed on her roof.

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Collier adds more and more decorations to her Christmas wonderland every year, but this year takes the cake. She has also noticed something else going up every year around this time, her electric bill.

She doesn’t mind the increase because she loves to see people stop and take pictures of her display.

Michael Sznajderman, spokesman for Alabama Power said, "Yes the usage does go up, but not really due to Christmas lights. It goes up because everyone is turning on his or her heaters due to the weather being colder."

It is actually cheaper to turn on your heater during the winter months then it is in the summer months.

Here are some helpful hints from Alabama Power to remember when you are putting up or taking down your Christmas decorations.

* Install outdoor decorations away from power lines.

* Follow manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the number of strands of lights that can be connected.

* Do not overload circuits.

* Use outdoor lights outside, and indoor lights indoors.

* Use only lights and decorations that carry Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approval.

* Do not string outdoor lights in damp or wet conditions.

* Do not leave lights on the ground in areas that are prone to flooding.

* Do not use frayed or damaged cords.

* Do not run cords under rugs, carpet or place near curtains.

* Put outdoor lights on timers.

* Always unplug holiday lights when changing out bulbs or fuses.

* Turn lighted decorations off when retiring for the night and when leaving home.