Try This!

LED holiday lights help lower your power bill
By Brian Sloboda
Try This!

Try LED tree light strands — they consumer far less energy and last up to ten times longer than traditional incandescent tree lights.

Holiday decorating can cause spikes in your January electric bill. One great way to keep your light displays from breaking the bank is to invest in light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Besides being energy efficient, LED holiday lights are long-lasting, safe and sturdy. They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and lengths and are available at many home improvement, wholesale, drug and grocery stores. Although LEDs are more expensive than incandescent lights at the time of purchase, energy savings over their lifetime make them a big money saver. And prices continue to fall down as the technology becomes less expensive. At HomeDepot.com, you can get a 50-count strand of white lights or multicolored lights for around $12.

The brightness and color of LED lights have also come a long way over the past few years. For white lights, you can choose between cool white (a bright icy-blue white) or warm white, (a yellow tint that's the closest to a white incandescent replacement).

Make sure the lights you buy are labeled for indoor or outdoor use, depending on where you want to place them. Decorating outside with indoor lights can shorten the life of the bulbs.

For even more energy savings, use a timer to turn on holiday lights from 6 to 10 p.m.

When purchasing your lights, make sure the packaging bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label. That means an independent testing group has thoroughly checked the product for safety hazards such as fire and shock.

One more thing to keep an eye out for involves lumen output of the lights. Traditionally, light bulbs have been based on their power use — or how many watts they consume. Beginning in January 2012, all light bulbs will carry a label showing the lumens of the bulb, or how bright it is. More lumens means a brighter light; fewer lumens a dimmer light.

Advantages of LEDs

Energy efficient. LED holiday lights use 70 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light strings.

Long-lasting. They boast a lifespan up to 10 times longer than incandescent lamps.

Safe. They stay cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.

Sturdy. The bulbs are made of epoxy, not glass, making them much more durable than other lights.

About the Author

Brian Sloboda is a program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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