Holiday lights can increase the average customer bill by $20 to $40 during the holiday season. But it doesn't have to be if you make the right changes to your holiday lighting display. Energy efficient lighting goes beyond day to day applications around your house. It can provide much needed relief for your wallet during the holiday season too. So relax and enjoy some more egg nog as we give you the gift of 5 tips to make your holiday lighting more energy efficient.
#1 Use LED Lighting Both Indoors and Outdoors
LED (or light emitting diode) light strings use 90% less energy than regular incandescent light strings. They also last about ten times longer, are cooler than incandescent light strings (reducing fire hazards), and are more durable. They're safe to touch and won't burn your children's hands!
The same goes for all holiday lighting applications. The larger C5, C7, and C9 lights which are commonly used in light strands as well as candlestick window decorations use 5 to 7 watts per bulb. It goes even farther when you’re placing lighting in your standard outdoor house lighting or for splash lighting against your home. In these applications you can replace 60 and 75 watt bulbs with 8 and 12 watt LEDs. Imaging the savings you’ll see this year.
Some stores offer rebates on the purchase of LED light strings. With the rebates, the cost difference between LED and incandescents is small and more than made up for in the energy savings the LED’s provide. Also check with your local utility about rebates they may offer. In many cases they provide as much as $2-$4 per light string.
#2 Connect Lighting to Timers or an Existing Automation System
Use an automatic timer or an existing home automation system to control your indoor and outdoor holiday lighting. This will prevent them from accidentally being left on and running up your electric bill unnecessarily. You'll gain the convenience of never having to turn the lights on and off and avoid leaving them on all night or during the daylight hours. Always check to verify that the timer you use is rated to handle the total wattage of the lights it’s controlling.
#3 Limit Hours of Use
This builds upon our previous tip. In addition to connecting all your indoor and outdoor lighting to timers or an automation system, set them to automatically turn on when it gets dark and to turn off at first light. If you're feeling especially frugal, set them to turn off in the middle of the night. Afterall, how many people are going to be enjoying your display at 4 o'clock in the morning?
#4 Be Selective in the Types of Lighting Used
The types of lighting you include in your holiday display can have a big impact on energy use. For example, those Icicle lights which have become popular in the last few years have more lights per linear foot than traditional light strands. One strand of icicle lights covers six to 20 feet, while a regular mini-light strand will cover between 25 – 46 feet. In order to decorate the same area with icicle lights you have to use more strands because each string is shorter. The result is you use more lights per strand and more strands to covering the same area, thus creating much greater energy use.
#5 Get Creative with Reflective Decorations
Stretch the creative side of your mind by adding decorations which don't involve lighting. Reflective ornaments and tinsel are great for amplifying the brightness of your display at night, so you can use fewer lights and still multiply your resources for shine. You could even put your next door neighbors' frighteningly costly display to use for your own home with a string of silver bells on your railing. Need more great decoration ideas that you don't have to plug in? How about ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs. You can also do some research online into how homes were decorated in colonial times, before the invention of electricity. There are tons of beautiful possibilities out there that don't require 120 volts.
Holiday lighting doesn't have to cost you a large increase on your electric bill. There is a reason that large public holiday displays, such as those at the Columbus Zoo, have been converted to all LED lighting displays. They contain literally millions of lights and lower energy consumption 90% by making the switch from incandescent strands, saving tons of money. But the benefits go beyond savings as the LEDs produce much less heat, making them far less of a fire hazard and significantly reducing how much they dry out the trees and bushes in which they are placed.
As you prepare your home for the holidays, take an extra few minutes to think about how you can make changes to your lighting and reduce the financial burden it places on your wallet.