It’s the most wonderful time of the year…which means Christmas lights! Everyone loves Christmas lights. They bring back childlike wonder in all of us. They sparkle, they flash, they come in multiple colors…what’s not to love?! But of course, as an adult, you think of all the responsible things that come with Christmas lights: safety, efficiency, and cost. Let’s take a look at the responsible side of Christmas lights so we can enjoy all the fun.
Most importantly, we want everyone to have a safe Christmas season. When using Christmas lights be sure to check this list first:
- Inspect light strings – throw away any that are damaged. Frayed or cracked electrical cords or broken sockets are leading fire hazards.
- Don’t connect too many strings of lights together – follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the general limit is three.
- Replace burned-out bulbs promptly – Empty sockets can cause the entire string to overheat.
- Ensure that your outdoor lights are for exterior use – lights used outside must be weather resistant. This is also true for extension cords.
- Don’t use outdoor lights for indoor use – outdoor lights are too hot for indoor use.
- Don’t attach light strings with nails or staples – if they cut through the wire insulation they can create a fire hazard.
Your energy bill will be effected by your size of light display and choice of lights. Whether you choose LED or incandescent will impact your bottom line greatly. A 100-count string of incandescent mini lights runs at 40 watts, while a 70 count of 5mm Wide Angle LEDs is about 4.8 watts total. The cost to power incandescents can be 90x greater than LED. This is a big difference when you are planning for efficiency during the holidays. Another benefit of LED lights is they last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 3,000 hours for incandescent.
Additional ways to reduce energy consumption would be to use timers. Place your Christmas lights on timers, both inside and out, and control the length of time that you are using your lights. Another opportunity for savings is to use extension cords in areas where needed rather than an extra string of lights.
Incandescent vs LED that is the question. Another good question is upfront cost vs energy cost. These are questions you will have to face when purchasing new lights. A basic string of 100 mini incandescent lights are around $2. The equivalent in LED are around $6. That is a big difference in upfront cost. It takes about three seasons to make up the cost with energy savings. LEDs are definitely the winner when it comes to energy savings, but if you are looking for a low upfront cost, then incandescent is your winner.