A New Tradition for Holiday Lights

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Amy Miller

It’s that wonderful time of year again. Along the country roads and city streets of New England, our real-life world of brown leaves, brown grass and gray skies turns into a captivating fairyland. Twinkling icicles line rooftops and color radiates from evergreen trees.

When it comes to the energy consumed by holiday lights, though, I’m hoping this year marks the tipping point. I can feel it when walking through the aisles of my local big box store, and I can see it as I drive along streets sparkling with a bluer shade of white.

In fact, we Americans are finally making the jump to becoming an LED nation when it comes to our holiday light strands.

According to the Associated Press, one major national retailer is selling no incandescent Christmas lights at all this year. General Electric also expects two out of every five strings of lights sold this year will be LEDs. The drop in prices has been a major factor in ushering this trend forward.

LED lights will last far longer than our old lights. The LEDs can last up to 40 seasons, while the Department of Energy predicts three seasons for your old mini lights. LEDs are also less likely to break and don’t get hot.

According to the US Department of Energy, holiday lights use enough electricity to power 200,000 homes for a year. EPA calculates that if all decorative light strings in America met Energy Star requirements, national electricity usage would drop 700 million kilowatt hours a year and we would save about $90 million on electric bills.

Over 10 holiday seasons, the savings for one tree could be $105 for the large LED bulbs and $22 for the minis. Multiply that by a yard full of strands lit up all season, and it really adds up.

Many stores now display a variety of LED lights. Some are warmer in color, while some are brighter. EPA’s Energy-Star label on some boxes can also guide your decision.

All these lights are out there waiting, vying for our attention and waiting for us to come to our senses.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in a great Maine community with her husband, children and many pets.