NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's the most wonderful time of the year, and for many of us that means showing the neighbors just how much holiday spirit we have.
Don't let your holiday decked-out home become a safety hazard or a money pit.
The average home today uses about six times as much electricity as a home 20 years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill.
That bill is certain to go up around the holidays with the addition of indoor and outdoor lights, so be sure lights turn on and off at the same time every evening by putting them on a timer.
"It's smart to use a timer for all of your holiday lights," suggests Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's home expert. "This way you can ensure that you will never forget to turn the lights off when you go to bed or leave you house."
Timing your lights may also help to prevent household fires. An average of 250 fires every year begin with a Christmas tree, and an additional 170 fires begin with decorative lights, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
A basic timer can be purchased at your local hardware store and should not cost you more than about $10.
A fake Christmas tree may not smell like the real thing, but it is definitely the safer and cheaper option.
"The safest alternative for a Christmas tree is an artificial tree because they are made of non-flammable materials," says Lou Manfredini. Manfredini suggests a Celebrations Columbus Pre-lit LED Christmas Tree or another tree with LED lights.
"This pre-lit tree features LED lights that are cool to the touch which is important if you have small children or pets," say Manfredini. "It also uses 10% of the amount of energy that traditional lights use."
If you plan to hang lights yourself, do it as safely as possible. An estimated 5,800 people are treated in the emergency rooms each year for falls associated with holiday decorating, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
Invest in a light hanging kit or a small step ladder to avoid mishaps while decorating.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that candles cause more than 15,000 home fires every year.
Light up your home this holiday season with safer, battery-operated candles instead. "Battery operated candles will last an entire holiday season," claims Manfredini. "They are safer than electric candles and eliminate the possibility of a fire."
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.93%||4.14%|
|15 yr fixed||3.03%||3.14%|
|30 yr refi||4.02%||4.21%|
|15 yr refi||3.11%||3.21%|
Today's featured rates:
Loosening state restrictions have given gun silencer sales a boost. Silencers are now legal in 41 states, compared to 37 four years ago. Also some gun makers are making it easy to attach them. More
If history is any guide, gold is still very expensive -- despite its recent fall. More
Pinterest reveals its diversity numbers and announces how it plans to diversify its workforce. More
Fast-food chains that operate in more than 30 locations nationwide are the sole target of a new rule in New York to hike their minimum wage to $15. But consumers and small business owners, as well as some employees, may be the ones to pay the price. More
You can't blame it on the economy anymore. More Millennials now have jobs, but are still living at home. More