LED's = Yuletide Savings

by Rich Finzer

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It must be my German heritage, but I'm just fruit loopy for a dazzling display of Christmas lights. Every year I buy another string or two to hang on my tree and an equal number to add to my outdoor decorations as well. I'm sorry, but I think they look very festive and really brighten up the holiday season. But then in January, when my electric bill arrives, I'm always stunned by how much extra my illumination fixation is costing me. I do get the intangible benefit of all those pretty colors, but paying my electric bill becomes a belated Christmas present to my power provider. Talk about your post-holiday depression. Fortunately, I just found a brand new solution to my situation: colored LED Christmas lights!

Last year I found a terrific selection of these little guys in the big orange home improvement store (you know the one). They were available in strings of 10 or 25 or even 50 "bulbs." LED lights produce all the color and holiday cheer I'm seeking, without making my electric meter spin like the prop on a P-51! For the record, LED Christmas lights use approximately 90% less electricity than conventional incandescent bulbs. Wowzer!

I did a little research on the Internet and discovered that at $.08/kwh, 500 incandescent Christmas bulbs will ramp up most folk's electric bill by about $65 if burned an average of four hours a night for the duration of the "holidays," meaning the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Members of the Eastern Orthodox faith, whose observance of Christmas doesn't arrive until early January, might be spending even more money on holiday sparkle. Reduce that amount by 90% and you're talking about saving at least 60 bucks a year.

LED Christmas lights are available in a variety of sizes that approximate those of traditional incandescent bulbs: C5, C7, and C9 (the big ones you use outside). And unlike the old style lights, LED's produce vibrant pure color, without a trace of the yellow hue that a tungsten filament imparts. They're available in a wide range of colors from pink to purple and everything in between. And there are literally hundreds of websites marketing them too. Recently I acquired two more strands of 25 at my local Blank-mart store.

Besides the beauty and intensity of their colors, LED Christmas lights have several other distinct advantages too. First, they generate almost no heat. This helps keep your live Christmas tree from drying out prematurely or raising the temperature in the parlor to an uncomfortable level. Second, because they use such paltry amounts of power, the risk of your tree catching fire is greatly reduced. Third, because LED's last for 10,000 to 20,000 hours before burning out, you may never need to replace them, which means you won't have that old cigar box filled with spares rattling around behind the couch while you're patiently waiting up for Santa. Leaving your lights on for four hours a day means that an LED bulb is good for 5,000 days of use or, if you do the math, 13.6 years. Multiply that $60 annual savings by 13.6 and now you're talking about giving yourself a really nice (as in over $800) Christmas present.

Updated November 2013

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