Go green with Christmas lights

Thursday, October 30th 2008, 6:09 pm
By: News 9

By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

Christmas lights are an integral part of the upcoming holiday season, but choosing what type of lights when buying is a choice you'll have to make. I'm not taking about whether to buy the bigger bulb lights or the miniature variety or even strings, icicles or nets. It's what's going to emit the light you need to think about.

There's the standard light bulb variety that's been used for decades. They are cost effective to buy and shine brightly. But they get hot and they cost more to operate.

The new version of lights uses LEDs-- light emitting diodes. These run cool to the touch, are made of plastic so they don't break like a glass bulb can, don't have the problem of the bulb color chipping off, their light emitted life is about twice that of a bulb and they use less electricity. But the LEDs aren't quite as bright as the standard bulbs and they cost a bit more to purchase.

Here's a breakdown of the two types:

A string of the bigger C7 size bulb has 25 lights. It's 24 feet long and the package says you can connect up to 2 sets together end to end. If you were to run these lights for 6 hours a day it would cost you approximately $4.50 figuring 2 months usage

A string of 25 roughly equivalent C9 LED lights is 14 1/2 feet long. The length is a definite consideration if you need to outline your home. Using the same equation as before, this LED set will cost you about 9 cents to run.

The bulb set cost me $6.38. The LED set cost $6.50. To go about 48 feet you'd need 2 sets of the bulb type and 3 sets of the LED version. The bulb sets would cost you $12.76 and the LEDs $19.50.

But in running the lights, again using the same 2 months for 6 hours a day, you'll spend $9.00 on the bulb sets and 26 cents for the 3 strings of LEDs.

Adding it up the bulbs will cost a total of $21.76 to buy and run while the LEDs will cost $19.76.

May not look like much difference to start, but over the 3 year recommended usage life of the lights that equates to $39.76 for the bulbs and $20.28 for the LEDs.

Remember to discard any strings with frayed, cracked or bare wires, loose connections or broken sockets no matter which type you use. Whether you use big lights or miniatures, the savings add up with LEDs for a greener holiday season.