Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Tip #2 Christmas Lights

"Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning." - George Carlin

Let's face it, living sustainably is one thing but giving up your christmas lights is something entirely different. Of course the best thing to do is simply not use christmas lights in the first place, but for many, it's just not the same without them. Luckily, LEDs have come a long way and are here to save the day. (You can read a neat explanation here).

Forever Bright, a really cool (pun intended) LED company now sells L.E.D. christmas lights everywhere from Costco to your local hardware store and they are great. They last for 200,000 hours, contain no glass (no broken bulbs anymore), use only 2-4 watts (compared with 43 or so for similar incandescent), and give off almost no heat (compared with the 94% of the energy in the old kind that were given off as heat - christmas morning fire anyone?).

So let's do a quick break down here. Assuming that you are one of those folks who needs to be able to see your house from the moon around this time of year (I kid, some of them are actually quite nice) and you use 20 - 100 bulb strings, let's look at some numbers.

  • Cost per string - Relatively the same if you shop around, less if you buy online.
  • The incandescents use 850 watts of power while the L.E.D.s use 60 watts of power.
  • If burning all bulbs for 6 hours a day the old ones will use 5.1 kWh/day and the L.E.D.s will use .36 kWh a day.
  • If you put your strings up right after turkey day and run them every night, that's 153 kWh a month for the old school bulbs and 10.8 kWh a month for the L.E.D.s.
  • Finally, using a base of .15 cents/kWh your same ole same ole bulbs are going to cost you $22 in electricity while the cool new ones are going to run you $1.62
Bottom line, they are cheaper, cooler (there's that pun again) and will actually pay for themselves in the long run. And if you don't think it'll make a difference, there are over 100 million homes in the U.S alone so the potential for energy savings is huge.

Thanks to Pablo  for his writeup.



Unknown said...

We have to consider the reuse factor here. I chose not to replace my Christmas Tree lights with something more energy efficient since what would happen to the old ones? I bought those - I am responsible for them. So they are on the tree but rarely lit - I turned them on the night we decorated and on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
And the photo cards that you do continue to get? Cut them to ornament size, add a hole and use scraps of ribbon from wrapping and they make great ornaments - your tree becomes a history of Christmas' past.

Dave said...

Well said Sherri and a great tip.