Are you planning to decorate your home, yard and garage with those old strings of incandescent lights this holiday season? According to the St. Louis County Health Department, it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Most strings of incandescent lights are wrapped with a hard plastic PVC coating, which protects the wire inside. This coating is a problem for our landfills taking up to 500 years to breakdown. In addition, PVC is heat resistant and sometimes contains metals such as lead, cadmium and tin that are harmful once they make it into the ground.
So what are the benefits of using LED lights for your holiday decorating and light displays? Consider the following facts about LED lighting as reported by the St. Louis County Health Department:
- LED lights use one tenth of the energy when compared to a traditional strand of holiday mini-lights. Using less energy means a lower electric bill.
- They last two times longer than incandescent lights – that’s up to 20 years!
- LEDs can withstand, heat, cold and moisture making them ideal for outdoor displays.
- These energy efficient lights are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.
- The brightness of LED lights does not fade over time.
- They are durable and harder to break than traditional holiday lights.
- LEDs can be found at most home improvement centers and hardware stores.
Before you throw those old light strands in the trash, check locally for a recycling/collection program. Many hardware stores and home improvement stores offer collection programs, and some even give a discount on the purchase of new LED holiday lights for every strand of old lights you recycle.
So, be earth-friendly this holiday season and decorate your house, garage and yard with LED lights.
Did you know the Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day? It is a day for us to commit or pledge to reduce our resource consumption during the holiday season. It is time for all of us to start a new holiday tradition. Get your kids, family and friends involved and make the commitment to work toward an earth-friendly holiday season.
These ideas should help you get started:
- Plan to recycle. Set up bins to collect gift boxes, wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards and envelopes, beverage cans and bottles. Tell your guests what to recycle and where to place the items so they don’t end up in the trash can.
- Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. Rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for a large holiday party or ask guests to bring their own for a smaller gathering. This will eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc. from going in the trash.
- Use less energy. A large crowd will warm your home. Turn the thermostat down a few degrees before guests arrive.
- Don’t buy too many groceries or prepare too much food for a holiday gathering. If you do prepare too much, send leftovers home with guests or reheat them the following day for yourself. Try your best not to throw away usable food.
The commitment is easy. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and make a pledge to participate in an earth-friendly holiday season without sacrificing the fun and joys all of us look forward to each year.
For more ideas about Use Less Stuff Day, please visit www.use-less-stuff.com.
If you enjoy decorating your home, garage and yard for the holidays, The Garage Plan Shop has a few tips for decorating and storage of your light displays and other holiday décor.
- Begin by going through all of last year’s décor. Get rid of strands of lights that don’t work (some hardware stores and home improvement centers collect non-working strands of lights and give a discount if you purchase new LED lights), throw away broken or weathered decorations. Remember to recycle anything you can. Replace any items that you discarded with new items you’ll need for your outdoor holiday display this year.
- If you like the way you decorated your yard, porch, garage, etc., take photos of this year’s display. You don’t need to print the pictures. Just save them on your computer and reference them next year. This way you won’t have to figure out just how you made your display looks so good last year.
- When the holidays are over and it is time to pack your lights and decorations, group them by the area in which they were used and place them is separate boxes or storage containers. Label the containers, i.e. “roof,” “porch,” “garage,” “yard,” etc. When it is time to decorate outside next year, you’ll already know which decorations are for what part of your home or yard. If you decide to print the photos mentioned in Tip # 1, include the photos in the corresponding boxes of decorations so you’ll have them for a reference.
With these holiday organization and storage tips, decorating the exterior of your house and your yard will be a snap next year!
With the holidays right around the corner, chances are you’ll be taking at least a road trip or two to visit family and friends or experience the joys of the season in another city or town. The Garage Plan Shop recommends following these travel safety tips provided by a traffic safety researcher.
1. Prepare your car – Make sure your car is in tip-top shape before setting out on a road trip. Change your oil and check tire pressure and antifreeze levels.
2. Map your travel plan – If your road trip is going to take more than a single day’s travel, consult maps and find hotels along your route in which to stay for the night. Also use resources like Google Maps and travel sites to locate hotels along your route. Don’t forget to bring your maps with you.
3. Drive safe during the day – Research shows roadways are most dangerous to travel early in the morning and late at night when drivers are more likely to be tired or intoxicated. Limit your driving times between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. Depart early and plan to be at your destination or hotel before it gets too late.
4. Plan to take breaks – Plan to pull over every 2-3 hours to stretch your legs, give your eyes a quick break and recharge. If you are traveling with another driver, take turns driving in shifts so no one experiences fatigue.
5. Wake up or catch up on sleep – Statistics report in 2009 alone over 100,000 car crashes were due to drowsy driving. If you are driving in shifts with another driver, take a nap while the other person is behind the wheel. If not, pull over in a safe well-lit place and take a quick power nap. But perhaps the best idea is plan to check into your hotel early in the evening so you can go to bed early and catch up on sleep for the next day’s drive.
6. Do not drink – It is not safe and it is illegal to drink and drive. Studies show a single alcoholic drink can cause important changes in cognition affecting your ability to drive. So, skip the beer at lunch and wait until you are at your destination (a holiday party) where you can relax, celebrate the holidays and not have to worry about getting behind the wheel later.
The holidays are a wonderful time for everyone. Make sure you and your loved ones enjoy them by staying safe when taking a holiday road trip.
The holidays are quickly approaching. If you are like the rest of us, you are busy preparing for holiday get-togethers and dinner parties, mailing holiday greeting cards, finishing up your shopping list and planning visits to family and friends. But something else should be on your “to-do” list that probably isn’t. Home safety. While we are focused on celebrating on the joys of the season, burglars are watching and waiting. During the holiday season, many of us get caught up in the festivities and let our guard down when it comes home safety making it an opportune time for burglars to strike when we least expect it. Below are seven tips to help protect your home, family and belongings during the holiday season.
- Whether you’re home all day, on an errand to the store or out for town for the week, be sure to keep all windows and doors locked. This includes the garage door and service door between the garage and the home. Burglars know the holiday season is an opportune time for breaking-in as many homes have extra valuables inside not to mention extra cash on hand, and homeowners are often away from their homes. Locked doors and windows deter potential break-ins.
- When you change your home’s décor from its everyday styling to holiday themed decorating, keep it simple and modest. Expensive and showy holiday decorations and elaborate light displays are a signal to criminals there may be plenty of valuables inside your home. In addition, do not leave wrapped gifts under the tree in full view from exterior windows. These are an invitation to burglars to break-in when you aren’t home. Keep wrapped gifts stashed away in closets and storage spaces until the last minute.
- Be sure your home is well-lit inside and out and the yard is well-groomed. Not only does this add to curb appeal, but it is an important safety measure. The more lighting you have inside your home and in your yard (including along sidewalks and around the garage), the less dark places for thieves to lurk and hide at night. Likewise, follow the 3 foot/6 foot rule when it comes to trees and shrubs in your yard. Trim bushes down to no more than three feet tall and trim trees up at least six feet off the ground minimizing hiding places for criminals. This also provides a clear view of your home from the street.
- If you plan to travel out of town this holiday season, only mention your trip to the people who absolutely need to know you’ll be gone. Furthermore, do not mention you’ll be traveling on any of the social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. If a potential criminal discovers you’ll be gone, it won’t take much legwork to find your address and know just when to break-in your home.
- In addition, do not mention or discuss valuable holiday gifts via social media. A post like, “Got a new sound system for the home theater for X-mas,” becomes common knowledge instantly. If a criminal happens upon this information, all he or she will have to do now is watch your house and wait for you to leave. Within minutes, that new sound system will not be yours any longer.
- If you do not use social media, do not think you are exempt from the risk of burglary. As soon as you put the empty boxes and packaging from your new sound system in the trash can or next to it at the curb, you’ll be telling the whole neighborhood and all the passers-by that you have something valuable in your home. Use caution when throwing away packaging from “big ticket” gifts. Burglars know what to look for and some even cruise streets and neighborhoods looking for boxes, cartons and trash signaling valuable gifts inside a home. As soon as you leave your house, your new sound system is as good as gone. Instead of throwing away all of the packaging or the entire box at one time, break it down or cut it into smaller pieces. Recycle or dispose of the smaller pieces a little bit at a time so not to attract attention.
- If you have plans to travel this holiday season, take advantage of a home security system if possible. If you already have one, you are in good shape. However, if you do not have a security system and can afford one, considering having it installed as soon as possible. If you do not have a security system and cannot afford one, take a few smaller steps like installing motion sensor lights along walkways, porches and driveways. Solar lights work well too, as you won’t have to manually turn them on or off. Inside, set your lights and TVs on timers. Have them turn on in various parts of the home at different times of the day. Consider asking a trusted neighbor to park in your driveway intermittently while you are away. Also ask a neighbor to collect mail and newspapers or stop these services until you return home. It is a good idea to notify your local police department as well and request a car drive past your home periodically while you are out of town. If you ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, identify the vehicle to the police.
As you look forward to celebrating the holiday season, The Garage Plan Shop recommends you add these home safety precautions to your holiday “to-do” list protecting your home, family and belongings.