This year, avoid the high cost of holiday lighting on your electric bill by starting a tradition of energy-efficient decorating with LED and fiber-optic lighting products. The variety and versatility of LED and fiber-optic lighting products are better than ever before, and these dazzling decorations help to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, provide longer-lasting light, and slash energy bills as they add sparkle to your home.
Here's how LED and fiber-optic lighting products can save energy and money on your holiday lighting this season.
Lighting with LEDs. LED (light-emitting diode) illumination has come a long way since its early, somewhat-dim days, and now tends to shine brighter and longer than traditional options. LEDs convert energy into light rather than heat, with each light in a system using only .04 watts for up to 90 percent efficiency over old-school incandescents.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, a household burning 10 strands of holiday lights with 100 lights per strand, eight hours a day for a month, would spend around $175 a month for large incandescents, about $11 a month for traditional mini-lights, and just over $1 for LEDs (based on a local energy cost of $0.1003 per kilowatt-hour). In other advantages, LED lights contain no mercury or other toxins, and the sturdy epoxy bulbs can last more than 50,000 hours, barely warming up and reducing fire concerns in the process. What's more, if one light in an LED string goes out, it won't dim the rest of a holiday lighting display.
Energy-efficient LED holiday lights are generally comparable in price to incandescent lights, and now abound at home improvement centers, hardware stores and such dedicated retailers as Environmental Lights. You can find indoor and outdoor light strings in a variety of bulb colors and shapes, as well as trees, wreaths, rope lighting, PAR spot bulbs for landscaping, animated lawn ornaments, and even systems to give that seasonal glow to your boat, camper or truck. Just look for LED on the label as you shop, and be sure to go all-LED in cases where multiple light strings are required.
Fiber-optic options. Fiber-optic trees are also sources of energy-efficient holiday sparkle. A single low-wattage incandescent bulb sends light out through tiny fibers integrated with the tree's needles. The result is cool-to-the-touch lighting that can be further enhanced with changing colors and special effects. Garlands, wreaths, and other decorations also lend festive lighting touches without adding to your energy bill.
Adding safety to savings. As with any holiday lighting endeavor, common sense and safety should be part of the scheme when you're decorating with LEDs and fiber optics. Start by inspecting light strings and decorations carefully for any damage or signs of wear that could literally spark an electrical fire. Use timers to limit light displays to a maximum of six evening hours, as around-the-clock shows will quadruple energy costs as well as pollution.
Also be sure to shut down and unplug holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house. And above all, read labels to ensure you're not exceeding maximum string connections and using lighting and extension cords according to their indoor/outdoor designations. Holiday lighting can be both festive and energy efficient this season. With these tips, spreading holiday cheer with your lighting is easy and affordable.