You May Be Spending More Than You Think on Holiday Lighting

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Whether they’re wrapped around your tree or hanging in icicle-like fashion from your gutter, string lights are a staple during the holiday season.

Holiday decorations account for about 20 percent of a retailer’s annual sales and end up costing Americans about $9 billion annually. Cutting corners and making small changes can save big bucks this year, and it starts with your energy consumption.

Photo: Flickr/Mastery of Maps

Making the switch to LED lights could save 400,000 tons in potential carbon emissions per year, the equivalent of removing 65,882 automobiles from roads for one year. Photo: Flickr/Mastery of Maps

We did little digging and found a “holiday calculator” to measure just how much the average consumer uses and which little investments will save in the long run. According to the Dominion Virginia Power calculator, three 100-bulb strings of LED lights cost just a penny a day to run, compared to 10 cents a day for traditional incandescent string lights.

We’ll save you the headache and do the math for you. That adds up to about $6-10 per season to light your tree with incandescents while it’s only about 13-17 cents for LEDs.

“Highly efficient LED lights bring unequalled brilliance to illuminated holiday displays while saving energy and money,” said Paul D. Koonce, chief executive officer of Dominion Virginia Power.

“While LEDs are available in a wide range of colors, their environmental benefits make them a truly ‘green’ holiday decoration. LED holiday lights save up to 98 percent of the electricity needed to power conventional bulbs.”

Think your one string of lights doesn’t make that big of a difference? The Electric Power Research Institute estimates potential national annual electricity cost savings would exceed $250 million if all seasonal mini-lights were switched to LEDs.

LEDs also typically have a longer lifespan than traditional incandescents. Typical incandescent bulbs last only 1,000 to 2,000 hours, with some estimates quoting LED lifespans from 25,000 to 50,000 hours.

If you’re making the switch, don’t forget to recycle your old or broken string lights. While most curbside recycling programs do not accept string lights, some communities may hold events for collection during the holiday season. If that’s not an option, will accept your old lights via mail.

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  1. I do agree that Led lighting is the thing of the future. But for the average consumer today in 2009, the cost of the lights are out of sight. I will use myself as an example. I currently use 30,000 incandescent mini lights for our Christmas display. If I purchased 300 boxes of 100 LED lights per box at the current price of $17.00 per box, it would cost me $5100.00 to replace my incandescent mini lights. Instead, I purchased three light controllers from Animated Lighting and use the 48 channels to computerize, load shed, and control my Christmas lights. It cost $980.00 for the controllers, my lights are on for 4 1/2 hours per night, and my electric bill only goes up $35.00 for the month of December at the current price for kwh’s. I will expand my show to 75,000 next year and most importantly I have already purchased 400 boxes of mini lights (100 lights per box) for $.80 per box. I like to keep my green in my pocket, not in the LED manufacturers wallets!

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