The holidays are here and that means celebrating time-honored traditions with friends and family.
Thankfully, some of those holiday traditions will never change; but others can’t come to an end fast enough — namely paying too much on your energy bill with outdated holiday lights and decorations.
As any fan of “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” knows, a bright, beautiful display of incandescent bulbs may be downright magical, but it can send your energy bill flying alongside Santa’s sleigh.
Fortunately, today’s decorators can have the best house on the block with energy bills scantly beyond normal, thanks to a new generation of high efficiency lighting options.
LED (light-emitting diode) lights and light strands use between 70 percent to 90 percent less electricity than their incandescent counterparts. So, not only will your LED holiday display cost less this season, you’ll be able to run more strands with fewer cords and presumably fewer hazards.
Incandescent light strands require a surprising amount of energy. Not only do they drive up your energy bills, they can easily overload an electrical circuit. Typically, only four strands or fewer can connect to one circuit; any more than that and you’ll likely blow a fuse. The only solution is to invest in several extension cords and fill just about every available outlet within reach.
But LED technology ends all of that. Because they consume significantly less energy, multiple strands of LEDS can be connected to circuit. That means more lights, fewer cords and lots of energy savings.
Hypothetically, say wrapping your living room window takes a few strands and a grand total of 1,000 lights. That many incandescent bulbs might require around 408 watts of power and at least two circuits to get the job done. That many LEDs, on the other hand, would consume just around 70 watts, which would eliminate the need for multiple strands plugged into several circuits, and, again, costs much less to illuminate.
LEDs will also allow your creativity to really shine. Many manufacturers sell strands and individual bulbs that can be programed to display a variety of eye-catching, custom colors and be synced with music and controlled from a tablet or smartphone.
In addition to being cheaper, LEDs are safer than incandescent bulbs. An incandescent bulb converts about 90 percent of its energy into heat, which can be dangerous around trees, curtains and flammable decorations. LEDs, on the other hand, typically operate just a degree or two above room temperature, making it much safer to decade a wide variety of locations. Plus, their bulbs are made of epoxy, not glass, so they’re very durable and much less likely to injure a person if they break.
Finally, LEDs last much longer than incandescent bulbs. A standard incandescent light is expected to last about 2,000 hours, while an LED bulb can last up to 50,000 hours. Store LEDs right and they’ll shine bright season after season.
While thinking about your light strands, don’t forget about other applications. LEDs come in a number of shapes and sizes that can fit most any need, so look through your lamps, holiday displays, spotlights, and others to see if they can be upgraded to LEDs.
When you get rid of your old light strings, don’t throw them out — recycle them. Many retailers will accept them for recycling, plus a quick internet search will reveal more options.
Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us call 360-992-3355, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.