Are energy efficient LED holiday lights a bright idea?

Costly lights do save on electric bills

JUNO BEACH, Fla. - Decorating your home with lights is a great way to show your holiday spirit; however, the electric bill you get the next month may leave you feeling more like the Grinch. Are energy efficient LED lights really a bright idea?

While most of us don't have elaborate holiday displays that take weeks to set up, we all want to save money. That's why Geraldine Ratcliff is decorating her tree with LED lights.

"I like them," she said. "They're bright. They say they're energy efficient, but I'll know when I get my electric bill."

"They're significantly better in terms of energy efficiency," explained Sarah Marmion, a spokesperson for Florida Power & Light. "In fact, they draw 90% less energy than the traditional or standard holiday lights."

Marmion said LED, or light emitting diode, lights can provide significant savings. If you turn on the lights on a six foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days, expect a much lower electric bill with LED lights.

"The standard bulbs for that 40-day period would be $25 dollars in terms of energy versus the LED holiday lights, which would be 56 cents," she said.

The Department of Energy estimates that if every household switched to using LED holiday lights, the country would save approximately $410 million in electricity costs.

LED lights are more expensive, about $25 to $30 dollars for a set of 100 bulbs; however, they can last ten times longer than long traditional lights and because they don't give off heat, they're safer.

If you're not ready to invest in new lights, Marmion suggests putting your decorations on a timer to save money and energy and look for non-electric decorations like battery-operated LED candles.

Geraldine Ratcliff is hopeful her lights will pay off over time, but she's waiting until after Christmas to buy more.

"Definitely after Christmas," she said. "After Christmas when they go on sale, if I see my energy bill is better, of course I will."

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