Light up the holidays safely and sustainably

by Tatiana Quong |Nov. 23, 2021

Is it just me or does it seem that once Halloween is over, it’s a full sprint to the end of the year? The constant hustle and bustle of the holidays quickly approaching is a bit overwhelming, yet I love everything about it! I savor it like a nicely aged, perfectly seasoned steak with all the sides. I mean, what’s not to love? Cooler temperatures, delicious homemade goodies that people have perfected over the years and of course, my ultimate favorite…the bright and festive holiday lighting.

A couple of years ago, I tried to convince my husband that we should purchase a pre-lit Christmas tree. It’s economical, sustainable and it’s readily available when needed. Sure, there’s no symbolic pine smell, but there’s also no driving around to fight the crowd for the “best” tree, no problem-solving skills needed to determine the best possible way of getting it into the car, and no crossing of fingers all the way home that it doesn’t fall onto the road.

I appreciate that there’s no need to soak the dehydrated tree while trying to prop it up evenly in the stand and no vacuuming all the pine needles. No thanks. I was ready for an artificial Christmas tree, but my husband, well, not so much. He eventually conceded — and his only request was that the tree needed to have colored lights. However, I prefer white lights. Luckily, we found the perfect solution — a Christmas tree with both! The best part was that the tree had Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. Even those who prefer a live tree should invest in LEDs, which offer the following benefits:

  • Safety. LEDs don’t emit as much heat as traditional lights
  • Energy efficient. LED bulbs use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs
  • Cost effective. The long lifespan of LEDs saves you money in the long run
  • Holiday sparkle. LED lights shine brighter

I was in love!

After the tree is up and decorated, we move on to exterior lighting so the entire neighborhood can get into the spirit, too. We tediously unravel all the multicolored and white LED lights that have been tucked away in our garage for the last 10 months. We test each strand one-by-one in our Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet, which is designed to protect from electrical shocks, prevent electrical fires and is recommended for outdoor use and near water sources.

Next, we get our sturdy ladders and 25-foot extension cords out and go to work. We wrap several of our trees that face the street and top off our decor by adding Santa’s hardest working reindeer along with his sleigh. We triple check all our electrical outlets and plugs to ensure nothing is overloaded and everything is plugged in safely, including our most prized device, the smart plug timer. The smart timer turns the lights on and off based on the prescheduled times we set. And the best part — we can control it all via our smart phones! Having a smart timer, or any timer for that matter, is a game changer. It’s convenient and a brilliant way to save energy.

Several hours later, everything is in place. With the big reveal, the lights come on promptly at our scheduled time and joy fills the air. The smiles on our kids’ faces are priceless and well worth the many hours of effort.

These moments together, simply enjoying the sparkle of the season, mean so much. That’s what this time of year is all about…savoring the glow of the holidays with those you care for most.

Tatiana Quong is a senior community affairs consultant at Hawaiian Electric.

Our vision is to deliver cost-effective, clean, reliable, and innovative energy services to our customers.