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) - Whether yours twinkle in multiple colors or sparkle in all white, holiday lights are a must-use element in nearly all homeowners' seasonal decorating schemes. And those lights -- once reserved for the tree -- have migrated to multiple spots both inside and outside the home.
According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), while LED lights cost less to operate and last longer than incandescent lights, most holiday lights are still powered by incandescent light sources. That's changing, thanks to the wider availability of LED holiday lights.
In addition to a longer life, LED holiday lights
can make an instant impact for everyone by decreasing utility bills and providing a safer light source. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the U.S. uses 2.22 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year to power miniature holiday lights -- or enough electricity for 1,300 homes for a year.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), LED holiday lights have an estimated lifespan of 40 holiday seasons and are more resistant to breakage -- thanks to epoxy lenses -- than incandescent versions. But the real impact comes from the cost of electricity. Here's how the different light sources affect consumption and expenses:
* Electricity cost for a 6-foot tree, 12 hours a day for 40 days:
Incandescent C-9 lights -- $10.00
LED C-9 lights -- $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights -- $2.74
LED Mini-lights -- $0.82
(statistics from the DOE)
* Estimated cost of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons:
Incandescent C-9 lights -- $122.19
LED C-9 lights -- $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights -- $55.62
LED Mini-lights -- $33.29
Available options for LED holiday lights include:
* Miniature, small and directional: These are classic holiday lights with brilliant illumination and direct lighting.
* C5, C7, C8, C9: These bulb-like (also called "strawberry") LED holiday lights come in a variety of sizes.
* G12: Often referred to as "raspberry lights," these LED holiday strings are round and come in either multi-colored or white versions.
* Net and icicle: These LED holiday lights have surged in popularity in recent years. They're often used to cover shrubs or dangle from eaves.
* Battery operated: Many LED holiday lights come in battery-operated versions to simulate candles or other flickering sources.
TIP: Check the LED holiday light box for the Energy-Star label. You can find Energy-Star lights at a local ALA-member lighting retailer.