WHEELERAca,!E+ARMYAca,!E+AIRFIELD, Hawaii - While lighting our homes during the holidays is a tradition no one wants to end, the cost of electricity to run these lights on U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) installations must be managed.

Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI, has issued guidance on holiday lighting that applies to anyone who consumes electricity on Army-Hawaii installations, which includes housing residents.

The garrison's 2009 fiscal year cost for electricity was $55 million, and the months with the highest energy bills were October-December.

This expensive end-of-year trend extends back several years. Regardless of other variables, the trend is a strong indicator that our increased kitchen activities and those lights that make our homes look good during the holidays are contributing to the overall electric bill.

The USAG-HI policy for holiday lighting states that decorative lights should not be turned on until the day after Thanksgiving and must be completely turned off by Jan. 15, 2010.

The policy limits the hours lights can be on from 6-10 p.m., except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, when lights may remain on until 1 a.m.

Using a timer to ensure your lights comply with requirements is strongly encouraged, and another way to reduce your impact on energy consumption is to use LED lights, which use less energy per bulb and last longer.