It all started with candles. The tradition of an illuminated holiday tree emerged around the 18th century, when wax candles were used to festoon the branches of fresh evergreens. Candles.
The notion is somewhat terrifying today. But even those incandescent bulbs of childhood had their safety and practical drawbacks. The large glass bulbs would shatter; the colored paint would chip and fade. And the occasional ornament would melt or worse if hung too close to a hot colored bulb.
Of course, safety issues were just part of the story. Those hot bulbs used a lot of energy – adding to holiday bills and – as we now know– accelerating the slow melt of Santa’s polar home.
Great news on all counts came with the arrival of the LED light. Shop the holiday aisle at any supermarket today, and LED lights represent the bulk of holiday lighting now for sale. And while price tag seems like a jump from the strings of yore, LED lights actually offer multiple cost benefits.
The advantages of LED (light-emitting diode) technology start with solid state lighting (SSL). In solid-state lighting, light is generated from the solid LED semiconductor when electrons pass through it. This technology uses about 75% less energy than incandescent holiday lights.
In fact, widespread use of LEDs by 2027 could save up to 348 TWh (vs. no LED use) of electricity. That equates to the annual production of 44 large electric power plants (at 1000 megawatts each) and $30 billion (based on current electricity prices) in savings.
Six Jolly Reasons to Decorate with LED Lights at the Holidays:
- Lower lifetime costs: Add up the costs of replacing bulbs, maintaining incandescent strings, and higher energy consumption (not to mention those melted ornaments), and LED lights will save you money.
- Safety: Less energy is radiated from LED lights, making them cooler than incandescent lights (i.e. fewer fires and finger burns.)
- Brightness: LED holiday lights shine far brighter than those made with incandescent bulbs – with no fading.
- Indoor/outdoor operation: LED lights are weatherproof and work as well outdoors as indoors. Their construction is impervious to moisture, heat and cold.
- Durability: LED bulbs are long-lasting. They don’t contain delicate incandescent filaments that eventually burn out. Take care of them properly, and they will last for years.
- Flexibility: Because LED lights use less electricity, you can connect up to 25 strings of end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. That should cover even the biggest holiday tree!
Of course, the most important reason to switch to a more sustainable light is the environment. They reduce your holiday carbon footprint significantly in a number of ways.
- 75% less energy usage
- Fewer gas-powered trips to the store to replace bulbs or lights
- Lower-impact manufacturing, because each string lasts much longer
If, when you plug in last year’s lights and nothing happens, know you can decorate for the holidays this year using sustainable, energy-efficient LED lighting.
In fact, throughout the year when you’re looking for a festive twinkle, always seek out LED lights – they are a smart, simple and sustainable change for the better.
May your holidays and New Year be happy and bright!
Steve Corliss is Energy Services Program Manager, at FirstCarbon Solutions, a global provider of comprehensive environmental and sustainability solutions for enterprise and government clients. http://www.firstcarbonsolutions.com