Increased home electricity use and higher energy prices have caused electric bills to soar in the last five years, according to USA Today, which recently reported that households paid a record-breaking average of about $1,400 for electricity last year. Stop the madness! You can save money and energy this holiday season by switching to LED holiday lights, which use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lights. LEDs can last a staggering 20,000 hours, which would take you through 40 holiday seasons. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

Energy Efficient Holiday TipsTake tree trimming for instance: It costs just 61 cents to power a Christmas tree decorated with 280 .04-watt LED holiday lights 12 hours a day for 40 days, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. Compare that to $6.53 for 300 .4-watt mini incandescent lights or $27.21 for 125 4-watt standard incandescent lights.

But the benefits of LED lights don’t stop at their ability to save you money. They are also durable, so even if one bulb breaks the rest of the light string will still work. The bulbs stay cool, too, because they don’t have a filament that heats up, which is the component of traditional incandescent light bulbs that causes them to waste 90% of their energy. That means a reduced risk of fire, and you can handle them without burning your fingers. And because they use less power, you won’t overload the wall socket.

You can maximize the money and energy savings you’ll get from LED lights by putting your exterior holiday lights on a timer so they come on after dark and turn off when you go to bed. Also be sure to unplug your interior holiday lights when you’re not using them; “vampire energy,” the electricity consumed by an item when it is turned off but plugged in, accounts for 10% of an average home’s electricity use. You might even consider using smart power strips, such as the ones from UFO Power Center and Energy Hub, which you can control through a phone app in case you realize you forgot to turn off your holiday lights while you are out shopping for gifts!

For more energy efficient holiday tips, visit the website of the Alliance to Save Energy at www.ase.org.

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