Christmas Lights and Energy Efficiency – the Possibilities of LED Lights

By John Rose, December 9, 2014, Energy Efficiency, Events & Fun

Christmas Lights and Energy Efficiency - the Possibilities of LED LightsThanksgiving has gone, the leftovers have all been eaten, and most of us are now enjoying the official start of the Christmas season. This is the time to start decking the halls, walls, and trees with lots of lighting. It is also the time the most extravagant seasonal decorators start to experience a little strain in their pocketbooks, as the beautiful displays come at a cost. Lights, alas, do not power themselves.

Most people are familiar with the fact that traditional lightbulbs only use 10% of their energy to emit visible light, with the remaining 90% wasted as released heat. This means that 90% of your holiday-related electricity bill is actually not impressing the neighbors with multicolored displays timed impeccably to Christmas music. Instead, it’s an unnecessary drain on the power grid.

Power doesn’t just equal money out of your pocket – it also equals emissions. The largest single source of electricity generation is the burning of coal (in 2013, 39% of electricity generated in the United States was from coal; 67% was from fossil fuels). Burning coal is not a planet friendly process, as it generates a lot of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas we should reduce in our atmosphere.

So how can you save money and help the planet as you decorate your home with Christmas lights? Allow me to introduce you to the energy efficiency of light-emitting diode (LED) lights!

LED lights use 80% less energy than conventional lights, but, since a quantity of “energy” is a somewhat nebulous concept to imagine, let’s try to think of it in a different way. If your Christmas displays are on the small side like ours, you have a bright tree and a few other strings in the house. If you keep them lit for 10 hours for just the 12 days of Christmas (who uses their lights for just 12 days?), you will generate 64 balloons worth of greenhouse gas. However, switching to LED lights would reduce this to less than 13 balloons.

Now I know what you are going to say, “LED lights are more expensive!” Hopefully, you’ve read enough of my blog posts by now to know what I am going to say in response.

  1. This isn’t just about the monetary investment, it is about an investment in the environment. That sounds awfully cheesy and contrived, but if everyone in the United States switched their homes to energy efficient bulbs, we could close several power plants; the cumulative effects are quite staggering. Never think that you can’t change the world – the change can start or stop with you!
  2. It’s about the long term. LED bulbs are actually more resistant to breakage than traditional bulbs. Because they are made from sturdier materials, they also have a longer lifespan. Your LED Christmas lights may well be just as bright and shiny 40 years from now and, let’s be honest, you would have replaced your traditional ones dozens of times in that same time period.

So, give the environment and your pocketbook a good present this year and invest in some energy efficient Christmas lighting! I am sure Santa will reward you.

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