- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s largest utility suggests going with LED lights over standard string lighting for the holidays.

Eversource says the lights are cool to the touch, and therefore, less hazardous.

LED lights also cost less to operate, using a fraction of the energy of older string lights. A string of standard incandescent mini lights uses around 40 watts, while a comparable string of LEDs uses just 4.8 watts.

Here’s a cost comparison: three strings of incandescent mini lights using 40 watts each for 150 hours a year costs $3.20. Three strings of LED lights using 4.8 watts each for 150 hours a year is 56 cents.

Buyers should be aware, however, that LEDs generally cost more up front.

Other tips:

-Use lights that have been safety tested and that lights placed outside are labeled for outdoor use.

- Check all lights, especially older ones, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections and toss any damaged sets. Check extension cords too, and plug outdoor lights and decorations into “GFCI” grounding outlets.

- Practice good extension cord safety. Consider a programmable timer for your strings of lights to ensure lights are not accidentally left on.

- Always look up first before you decorate outdoors. Never raise ladders or extend objects into or near power lines.

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