Mister Sparky hopes you had a fun and safe time decorating for the holidays this year! As electricians, we have a soft spot for strands of twinkling lights, as well as lots of opinions on how to safely put them up, operate them and store them until next year. We even have a few thoughts about how to keep your power bills low while enjoying bright, joyful displays for weeks.

There’s no rush to be first in your neighborhood to take down the lights after the new year, but it’s not too early to start thinking about how you’ll get the job done. The right strategy and storage supplies can spare you lots of hassle when winter rolls around again in 2018.

Safety First and Last

We recommend a thorough inspection of all your lights at the beginning of the holiday decorating season, but it’s smart to do this before taking them down as well. With wind and winter weather, there’s always the potential for damage to sheaths and plugs on outdoor lights. And if you replace any burned-out bulbs at this stage, you’ll have another leg up on next winter.

With safety in mind, you should also consider that taking your lights down may be harder than putting them up. In many parts of the country, weather is often colder and wetter in January (or February, if you’re really not in a hurry for the holidays to be over), so it’s especially important to dress for the weather, wear non-slip boots and exercise extreme caution when climbing ladders.

A Stitch In Time

If you’ve ever taken down and stored your holiday lights in a hurry, you may be familiar with the dreaded task of untangling a massive snarl of cords. This time around, save yourself some trouble by preparing storage supplies in advance: plastic bags, cut-to-size twist ties and sturdy storage crates.

As you remove each strand, carefully wind it into a loop and secure it with a twist tie. Then place the strand into its own bag and label it with the strand’s location. When you’re done, pile all the bags into storage crates and store them in a dry, enclosed area. You’ll thank yourself months later when you can start decorating with all of your lights already separated and untangled.

Make the Switch

You know by now that LED holiday lights use a fraction of the electricity of standard incandescent lights. But it can be hard to let go of those old-fashioned lights, especially if they’re still in good working order. The end of the season is a great time to reassess and make a decision to upgrade before next year. That will leave plenty of time to stake out sales on new energy efficient LEDs for 2018.

Here Comes the Sun

The only thing better than cheap is free, so while you’re thinking about lighting upgrades, don’t forget solar power. Solar powered LED holiday lights exist in almost as many styles as their plug-in counterparts, and they won’t cost you a penny more than what you pay for them. And because there’s nothing to plug in, solar lights give you the flexibility to string them up far away from the nearest electrical outlet.

Most solar holiday lights can be set to turn on automatically after sunset, when they’ll shine for a few hours before running out of stored energy. That means you don’t even have to set a timer or remember to turn them off before bed.

We hope you find these tips and ideas helpful when it comes time to pack up your decorations. But for now, enjoy the light show as you celebrate with family and friends, and be sure to call your local Mister Sparky if any electrical problems try to spoil your holidays!