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Ask a Specialist: Do You Have Tips to Taper Holiday Lighting Costs?

Monday, Dec. 02, 2013

writer: Julene Reese

Nov. 26, 2013

 Ask a Specialist: Do You Have Tips to Taper Holiday Lighting Costs?


Answer by: Lou Mueller, Utah State University Extension associate professor, 435-587-3239, lou.mueller@usu.edu


 With so many decorative lighting products available this holiday season, how can you choose lights that will save on home energy costs? If you haven't made the switch from conventional incandescent lights, consider purchasing Light Emitting Diode or LED lights. LED lighting will reduce your energy costs because they draw much less electricity than incandescent lighting. 


 It is important to know how LED lighting compares to incandescent lighting for energy savings. Calculate your own savings by adjusting the following example. Say you have an 8-foot Christmas tree, strung with 125 (C-7) incandescent bulbs, which you leave on for 5 hours a day, over 30 days, at an energy rate of .0823 Kwh (8.23 cents per kilowatt hour). The cost of lighting your tree will be $9.26 over those 30 days.


 If you light the same 8-foot tree with 280 LED mini-ice lights over the same amount of time and at the same energy rate, your total drops to a mere 17 cents for that month—saving you $9.09 in lighting costs. If you decorate with exterior lighting in your yard, you can see how much you can save using LED lighting. Consider this further information about LED lighting.


 * LED lighting lasts years longer than incandescent lighting. In addition to lower energy consumption and cost savings, LED lights offer many attractive features including longer life span—up 100,000 hours for indoor use and 50,000 hours for outdoor use. Some brands offer a lifetime warranty, but you must have the original package and receipts for proof of purchase. Safety is another great feature. LED lights are non-combustible and their epoxy lenses are virtually indestructible. And because they use so little energy, they remain cool to the touch, even after being on for hours. 


 * When LED lighting was introduced in 2002, there weren’t many size or color options. However, improved product lines now offer many lighting varieties with warm or cool tones in white and multi-colored bulbs. LED bulbs are brighter because they are tinted with chemicals rather than painted like incandescent bulbs, which explains why they are brighter and colors vary more than incandescent bulbs. LED lights also come in a variety of shapes including multi-faceted ovals or teardrops, smooth miniature rounds, mini-lights, bumpy ovals shaped like pine cones, icicle lights and rope lights. LED lights can also twinkle and change colors.


* Although the initial purchase price of LED lighting is higher than standard incandescent lighting, the cost is offset over years because the lights last much longer and reduce energy costs. Shop around and watch for opportunities to purchase LED lighting on sale. Although higher discounts can usually be found after Christmas, many retailers boost holiday sales by discounting Christmas inventory even before the holidays. Either way, make plans to stock up on LED lighting to reduce your energy costs and brighten your home and yard for many Christmas seasons to come.

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