Blog: Trimming the tree in green style

| by Teena Hammond
Blog: Trimming the tree in green style

This is the big year in my home. It's the year I have to decide whether to stick with the strings of traditional Christmas lights I've used for years, or replace everything with LED versions.

Not to be a Scrooge, or, dare I say, a Grinch with garlic in my soul, but the cost of LED lights is something to consider. If I spend an average of $10 for each string of LED's, will it pay off in the end? And how long will that payoff take?

Well, math isn't my strong suit. Hey, I'm a writer. What can I say? Knowing your strengths — and weaknesses — are what makes a person successful. So I handed over the math stuff to someone else. Random online people. Well, not so random. This "little" organization called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts out guidelines to consider.

According to the EPA, LED lights:

  • Consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent lights strands.
  • Can last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent strands.
  • Are cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.
  • Do not have moving parts, filaments or glass, so they are much more durable and shock-resistant than other light strings.
  • Are available in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths.
  • Come with a three-year warranty, meaning fewer light string replacements.
  • Are independently tested to meet strict lifetime and electrical requirements.
  • Products labeled for outdoor use are subjected to weathering tests.
  • Some models deliver features such as dimming or color shifting.

And then, About.com includes a useful guide, pointing out that a traditional incandescent C7 holiday light uses 6 watts per bulb, compared to .08 watts per LED bulb. This means that since a typical strand of lights has 50 bulbs, that is 300 watts, or .3 kilowatts. At the national average of 9.81 cents per kWh, that is 3 cents per hour, per string of lights. So it costs $4.50 to use each string of 50 lights for 5 hours a day for 30 days, the typical length of time holiday lights are displayed.

For comparison, a strand of 50 LED lights uses 4 watts (.004 kilowatts). That means the total cost to run a strand of LED holiday bulbs for the season would be less than 6 cents.

So, with that knowledge, it means each strand of old-fashioned lights that I use costs me $4.50 for the season, versus 6 cents for LED lights.

Okay, decision made. I'm switching to LED lights. The savings I'll reap will nearly pay for the new strands in two years.

So that means it's time to go shopping! Ho ho ho, indeed!

Teena Hammond is the editorial director and associate publisher of ProudGreenHome.


Topics: Going Green, Lighting



Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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