The weather outside may be frightful but with a few simple steps you can be cozily ensconced in your home complete with colorful strings of Christmas lights during the long winter evenings.

The period leading up to Dec. 25 signals prime-time for Christmas lights for both DIY homeowners as well as companies that install lights such as Calgary’s Men In Kilts.

“Most plan the installation of their Christmas lights throughout the month of November. Installation is actually more preferable during the month of September since it’s much warmer out, and we don’t have to worry about as many safety related issues due to no snow being on rooftops,” said Chris Carrier, Calgary franchise owner of Men In Kilts.

Carrier explained that they have found a shift in the type of lights that are being installed.

“Most recently there has been a huge shift to installing LED (Light Emitting Diodes) as those lights are extremely efficient. Power savings can be as much as 98 per cent less power used, and as such, the lights last much longer. This allows us to add so many more lights to a house without the fear of tripping breakers and creating fire hazards that traditional lights bring,” Carrier said.

A typical install from Men In Kilts can be whatever the customer imagines, and what their budget is able to support.

For those do-it-yourselfer home owners, here’s a few simple steps and tips to make your home merry and bright.

Firstly, whether you live in an apartment, condo or house it’s important to have a design idea in your head about the Christmas light look you’re wanting to achieve. Do you want to hang them from the eaves? Bedeck your trees? Do you want a variety of colours or a specific palette? Whatever the case, determine roughly how many lights you’ll need and purchase or dig them out of the attic or garage accordingly. It’s also important to note where your outdoor outlets are to maximize your cords. Too many cords and too many plugs can cause electrical shortages.

The new kid on the Christmas light block the last few years has been light-emitting diode or LED lights. Using about one tenth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lights are popular for their low energy usage. Available in a wide variety of colours, the lights don’t fade like traditional lights because of the plastic bulb.

When using extension cords, ensure your cord is designated for outdoor use. Timers can be purchased to automatically turn lights on or off and saves you from running outside in your bathrobe in sub-zero temperatures to give your home that festive glow. If an extension cord crosses a sidewalk be sure to tape it down for safety. Once your lights are down and packed away there are extension cord organizers available at your local home renovation store.

It seems to be an age old adage that someone’s dad, grandpa or other random family member will string up an entire set of lights, call the family outside and proudly plug in the cord only to be disappointed when half the lights are burnt out. Always plug your lights in at ground level so you can replace bulbs if need be.

When hanging lights outside it’s best to use a buddy system: one of you to climb the ladder (it’s important to have a sturdy, dependable ladder) and attach lights, and another to hold the ladder and hand off extra strings of lights and pick up the extra slack so the weight of unattached lights don’t pull the attached one’s off your home.

There are a variety of light clips available at a variety of stores that can be used to hang your lights with ease. Attach the clips to your home with either a nail or staple gun; this is something you only need to do once and makes hanging lights a lot easier for following years. Clips are also available that slide right onto your eaves trough, pick which clips will be best for the light design you’ve chosen. Space clips roughly 12 inches apart from each other.

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