LEDs burning brighter than ever this season

xmastreeoBy Amy Miller

During the days after Christmas, after the toys, books and clothes are unwrapped and the turkey has been eaten, my family likes to cruise through nearby communities and gaze – well OK, pass judgment — on all the beautiful holiday lights.

Good one, my husband might exclaim.

Cool, my son will add.

Tacky, declares my daughter.

Oh look down there, that looks like a good street.

And so it goes, evaluating and just enjoying the displays of light that bring merriment to New England during the darkest days of winter.

Over the years we (or so we believe) have become connoisseurs of the ever more creative displays. In recent years, we keenly observe, displays have become what might technically be called a mish-mash.

Bright bluish white LEDs mixed with old fashion yellow lights. What the industry calls cold blue versus warm blue. And big C9 color bulbs mixed with soft little icicles. Beside all of these lights, a giant Snowman balloon alongside a munching incandescent deer.

Well, if it was bedlam out there, the good news is that we are slowly moving towards a much more efficient display of holiday cheer. And now, while the sales are on is the perfect time to get your LED holiday lights at an especially low cost.

Anecdotal evidence tells you that the ratio of LED bulbs to energy guzzling incandescent lights has gone up significantly. The cause may be greater energy consciousness. Or that the price of LED has dropped enough to draw in consumers. Or as I will argue, it’s because the elves created a more appealing LED light in the warm spectrum, slightly closer to the yellow whites we are used to.

In fact, our backseat analysis of the trend turns out to be true.

According to the Department of Energy, holiday light strands are becoming ever more popular. They’re sturdier, last longer and consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs 27 cents to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. For those who aren’t mathematicians, that’s a big difference.

Lighting today is safer and brighter than ever. The history of lighting began with candles, pretty but not so safe. Incandescent lights were a step up, and now we have LEDs, which are cooler to the touch and much safer. Plus, they are significantly less likely to burn out or break. LEDs are sturdier because they are made with epoxy lenses instead of glass, so break less easily. Also, as many as 25 strings of LEDs can be connected together without overloading an electrical outlet.”

We know LED holiday lights cost more up-front, but they save a lot of money in the long run. Besides using less energy, they last 25 times longer. I know, because for the first time, I haven’t had to replace my little strand of outdoor lights for two years.

DOE estimates the cost of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons is:

  • Incandescent C-9 lights, $122.19
  • LED C-9 lights, $17.99
  • Incandescent mini-lights, $55.62
  • LED mini-lights, $33.29

OK, so the warm LEDs aren’t quite as cozy as the old white lights, but they are close. Anyway, I’ve come to see those cool blue ones as cleaner, more wintry. I can even envision a time when the yellow ones will seem dirty. And, to my family, they already are feeling unnecessarily wasteful and expensive.

For 2017, resolve to get LEDs. And I hope you enjoy the light shows as much as I do.

Amy Miller works in the Office of Public Affairs at EPA New England.

Fore more information on LEDs: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

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Bright Idea for 2013? ENERGY STAR Certified Lighting!

By: Monique O’Grady, the Alliance to Save Energy

When we popped open the corks at the stroke of midnight at our house to welcome 2013, we did it under ENERGY STAR certified lighting: CFLs in the recessed fixtures, LEDs in the pendants, and LED holiday lights on the mantle.

Watching the iconic ball drop over Times Square on TV is a New Year’s Eve tradition at the O’Grady’s that was made even more special a year ago when I had an opportunity to look at the energy-saving wonder up close. I accompanied the President of the Alliance to Save Energy, Kateri Callahan, and Philips Lighting’s Ed Crawford, as they were interviewed about the 32,000 LEDs in the world-famous ball and the benefits of switching to energy-saving lighting.  The cutting-edge technology shone brightly under pristine crystal, while saving about 80% of the energy used by the original globe’s incandescents. The result? The 12-foot globe that now ushers in the New Year with a colorful light show uses only the energy of two wall ovens.

But you don’t have to be in Times Square during the extravaganza that rings in the New Year to know that saving energy can also work on a smaller scale.

Buying Bulbs, Saving for Our Future
This year’s holiday electric bill will probably be a belated gift.  This Department of Energy stat shows why: the estimated electricity cost to light a 6-foot tree with C-9 incandescent light strands  will add $10.00 to an energy bill during a 40-day holiday season. But, by using C-9 LED strands, the cost is just 27 cents.  I used three LED strands on my tree, but I also changed out an additional seven strands for other decorating needs. That should make a noticeable difference.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if every decorative light string purchased in the United States this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would:

  • Prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from about 80,000 cars.
  • Save more than 600 million kWh of electricity.
  • Save about $65 million in annual energy costs.

A recent estimate by the Department of Energy shows that by 2030, the energy savings from increased use of LED lights will reach $30 billion a year. In 2013 we expect to see more LED options on the market and prices continuing to drop.  And 2013 also promises some of the first 100-watt LED equivalents – another gift that keeps on giving!  Look for the ENERGY STAR on these bulbs to ensure they have passed all the rigorous tests required by the EPA’s strict ENERGY STAR requirements.

Initially these 100-watt LED equivalents will be pricy — about $50 a bulb — but one manufacturer estimates each bulb will save $220 in energy costs over its 25,000-hour lifespan (or more than 20 years).  If you want to learn more about energy-saving light bulbs go to ENERGYSTAR.gov. You can also check the Alliance to Save Energy YouTube series for ways to be energy efficient all year long. Here is your first tip–start by looking for the ENERGY STAR label!

Monique O’Grady is the Vice President of Communications for the Alliance to Save Energy and helps chair the mass media subcommittee of the LUMEN Coalition, an ad-hoc group of organizations and professionals united to educate consumers about energy-efficient lighting choices. Monique also hosts an Alliance to Save Energy video series on energy efficiency tips, including six videos on energy-efficient lighting.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.