Holiday caveat No. 1: Those twinkling lights you’re stringing on the tree or around the windows can be hazardous to your health. The element du jour, lead, is used in the ingredients to make the plastic coating for the wire. (And yes, many of these lights are made in China.) There should be a warning on or in the box advising you to wash your hands after handling the strands. Also, keep them out of the reach of children and pets; if the lead won’t harm them, electrocution will.
If you’re buying holiday lights, purchase those with LED bulbs (also known as light-emitting diodes). A conventional strand of 50 lights uses 300 watts, or 3 cents an hour. By comparison, LED lights use 4 watts, or .04 cents an hour.