A practical guide to brightening the holidays
Light the holiday right
Unlike the outdoor living of summer, the winter season beckons us to bring the outdoors into our homes. We search for Christmas trees, pinecones, pine boughs, gar- land, mistletoe, poinsettias, small models of Santa, elves and reindeer, as well as depicted snowflakes. We set a cozy scene at night with candles, firelight, twinkling lights and garland strewn about our trees, to mimic the stars. This is our holiday tradition, where we create our own personal snow globes inside and out.
The highlight of this delightful season in Park City includes being able to live among our clean air, snow-capped mountains, magnificent star-filled nights and abundant wildlife. It’s nearly a perfect se ing, right out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Exterior lighting ornamentations add to the liveliness of the holiday season. Some homeowners nearly go overboard by trying to compete with neighbors, while other people artistically adorn their homes with simple eave lighting and twinkle lights in the trees. We have all seen exterior holiday lighting overdone so much that they shock the senses of any passersby.
Here are a few do and don’ts when it comes to exterior holiday lighting.
- Make sure you check the local exterior lighting regulations of your neighborhood. Most have restrictions, which limit the amount of exterior trees you can illuminate. Some have color regulations, and most have strict time frames for installation, turn on, turn o and take down. Some don’t al- low trimming out the exterior eaves with lights. Some do not allow flashing or strobe-light effects.
- If you do’t have any regulations, it is not a bad idea to adopt a few of your own. Pick your color strands and applications wisely. With white lights, which are largely LED today, make sure you select the warm color temperature LED, in the 2,700K range. This will provide a welcoming glow, rather than the bluish, harsh, lower-cost 4,000k LED strands.
- Always try to use LEDs. They use one-fifth of the energy of traditional lights, yet they illuminate homes just as well.
- Be mindful of any hazardous laser light cannons that spray laser lights all over the exterior of the house. This usually ends up shining in guests’ eyes as they leave your property, and it even creates a “light pollution” problem as you look out your windows at night.
- Know that color in traditional lighting fades — often in one season — whereas LEDs remain vibrant and crisp, showing their “true” colors.
- Choose high-quality lights: Made of solid plastic, as opposed to a vacuum-sealed piece of hollow glass, LEDs don’t break easily and have a life span of about 5,000 hours, compared to the 2,000 to 3,000 hours of traditional lights.
- Be aware of your selection and applications of holiday string lights. Note the UL or ETL specific ratings for indoor or outdoor use. There is a difference in wire type, sockets and chord cap ratings, which could prove hazardous if used improperly.
- Experiment with your tree lights in various solid colors. Color your tree with red, blue and warm white, for a very festive — and even patriotic — look. You might also alternate white and red bulbs on replaceable string lights for a bit of drama on outlined eaves.
- Once you light your home, make sure you set all of your holiday lighting on automatic timers. There is obviously no need to illuminate your house and trees in the daytime or after midnight.
- Focus on installing eve lighting and tree lighting on the front side of your home. This helps keep lighting “trespass” to a minimum by not directing light into neighboring homes’ windows.
- Don’t over-light the outside of your home. Remember, you don’t have to light every single eave line.
- Don’t use multiple color string lights everywhere. If you decorate your home with a bunch of color without rhyme or reason, it becomes visually confusing.
- Don’t use gigantic, blow-up Santas or automated reindeer on your roof or in the yard. They tend to look tacky, rather than trendy.
- Don’t overload your home lighting circuit breakers: you’ll know if you have — when your lights don’t go on.
- Don’t climb on your roof or in the trees yourself. It’s too risky, as snow and ice begin to accumulate, especially when it’s time to take down the lights. Leave the job to the professionals.
- Finally, don’t leave your lights on all year. Leaving the lights on year-round wastes electricity.
If you would rather not risk climbing on roofs or trees, professional residential Christmas lighting experts exist. These experts can make recommendations based on your budget and aesthetics. After some discussions, they’ll design full systems, and then install the lighting, take it down and store your exterior lighting from year to year.
By following these dos and don’t, your home will sparkle with tasteful attractiveness — and perhaps even be the talk of the town. Either way, you’re adding light to a winter where darkness comes much sooner than summer, so lights help raise spirits and add a heart-warming feel to your home and neighborhood.
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