'tis the season to be merry and bright with LEDs

The holidays are right around the corner and you know what that means: Christmas decorations! Trees, lights, ornaments and wreaths are holiday staples in the U.S. Something many of us don’t consider before decking the halls of our homes is the increased energy use and electricity cost that go with all those twinkling lights.

Have you ever wondered how much electricity it takes to power all the sparkling trees and decorated lawns? In 2015, researchers Todd Moss and Priscilla Agyapong used data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the World Bank to answer that exact question. They found that American holiday decorations use 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. While that’s just 0.2 percent of the total electrical usage in U.S. homes every year, it’s also more than developing countries like El Salvador, Ethiopia and Tanzania use in an entire year.

Whether you’re trimming a tree or the whole house, LED lights are a great way to save a penny without skimping on holiday spirit.  LEDs use a fraction of the energy that traditional holiday incandescent lights do. This one simple change can cut the amount of energy your holiday décor consumes by up to 80 percent and that means major saving for you.

Type of Electricity Electricity Cost
1 string of lights 10 strings of lights

One String of Mini Incandescent lights
(100 Lights - -0.408watts each)

$1.77 $17.72
One String Mini LED Lights
(100 lights - 0.048 watts each)
$0.21 $2.08

*Total costs are based on lights being used an average of 10 hours per day for 40 days (roughly the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day), an electricity cost of 10.86 cents per kilowatt hour (roughly the average cost of electricity in the United States at time of publication) and the selection of Christmas lights available at Home Depot in November 2016

While the energy savings are a great selling point, LEDs have even more to offer.  If little ones are going to be around your Christmas tree, you’re going to love that LEDs are safer than other lights. They’re made of plastic and contain no glass. This makes them more durable and more difficult to break. They’re also always cool to the touch.  LEDs emit very little heat while other traditional lights do exactly the opposite.  If you touch an incandescent light when it’s on, there’s a good chance you’ll end up burning your finger and if these bulbs overheat, ornaments or dry Christmas trees can easily catch fire.

For those who prefer to have your house covered in lights like the Griswolds, LEDs can help make your display equally great from the first day to the last. LEDs use less energy and can last up to 75,000 hours. Less energy use allows you to string more lights together without blowing a fuse while their long life span means you can leave them on all day, every day and still enjoy them for years to come. If Christmas décor year-round isn’t your style, you can pack them away knowing that they’ll work just as well next year. They’re also available in a variety of shapes, sizes, forms and colors, making the options for lighting your winter wonderland nearly unlimited.  

Some information for this feature was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.