3 reasons to light the holiday season with LEDs

On a dark winter night, twinkling holiday lights lift our spirits. Over the centuries we have gone from decorating trees with candles (not the best idea) to using electric-powered lights, which were first draped around a tree in 1882 by an inventor who worked for Thomas Edison.

Today, thanks to three Japanese scientists who recently won the Nobel Prize for their development of a blue light-emitting diode (LED), we can move beyond Edison and choose an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly light source, the LED bulb. Although they’ve been on the market for some time, LED lights are now coming down in price, making them an even more attractive option for everyday and holiday lighting.

When decorating this season, keep in mind these three reasons why LEDs are a better way to brighten your holidays.

  1. LEDs are a better choice for your pocketbook. With continued advances in LED technology (especially around heat regulation) by producers like GE and  CREE, the cost of home LED bulbs is now nearing the price of compact fluorescent lights. Since lighting is responsible for 14 percent of a home’s electricity use, more efficient bulbs can reduce home energy bills. If you’re wondering how much you could save by making the switch, check out the CREE LED calculator. When it comes to holiday decorating, LEDs will lead to significant savings over the years. For example, lighting the tree with incandescent lights will cost you around $122 over 10 seasons (including replacement strands), compared to just $33 for a tree adorned with LED lights. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if all decorative strands purchased this year were ENERGY STAR rated, Americans would save $45 million and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 630 million pounds annually.
  1. LEDs are safer sources of light. About 150 house fires a year are caused by decorative lighting, costing almost $9 million in property damage. LEDs are cooler than other bulbs, making them less likely to spark a fire in a dry Christmas tree. And because LEDs draw far fewer kilowatts of energy from the outlet, the risk of electrical fires is reduced. In fact, manufacturer specs allow for connecting up to 25 LED holiday strands in one outlet.
  1.  LEDs are better for the environment. A quarter of the world’s electricity is used for lighting, and most of that energy is produced from high-carbon fuels. As demand for energy rises around the globe, more efficient lighting technologies are one strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions. LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Moreover, the long life of LEDs – up to 25 years for household bulbs – means less material heads to the landfill.

The long life of LED holiday lights — up to 10 times longer than regular strands — means the same strands will be like keepsake ornaments you unpack year after year. It’s very likely that the first holiday lights junior recognizes as a toddler will be the exact same lights he comes home to during winter break in college. And family traditions are another way to brighten those long winter nights.