Sale Shopping for 2009 Holiday Lights? Consider Energy-Efficient LEDs

For anyone shopping the post-holiday sales in order to stock up on holiday lights for 2009, a word to the wise: make sure the lights you purchase are of the light-emitting diode (LED) variety, rather than incandescent bulbs. LEDs will cost more up front, but you'll save a ton in the long

"A 60-light LED string will put out as much light as a 100-light incandescent string, and will result in an 88 percent savings on your electric bill," said Con Edison Lighting Specialist Peter Jacobson. "That's almost 9/10 of what you're spending on energy for holiday lights. That'll keep more green in your wallet, and you'll be happier every holiday season for the rest of your life because of it."

Considering that the holiday lighting season is 45 days long, and that lights are typically on for seven hours a night, the seasonal savings will amount to 11-plus kilowatt hours for each string of lights, or the difference between $3.05 per incandescent string to 37 cents for an LED string. That amounts to $2.25 savings for each LED string. (A string of incandescents will use 13.858 kilowatt hours (kWh) over a lighting season, while LEDs will use only 1.69 kWh.)

"Multiply that by the number of strings that you're displaying," noted Jacobson, "and it adds up."

While an incandescent string of lights uses 41 watts, an LED string uses only five watts, according to Jacobson.

"The 60 LED lights will be just as bright as the 100 incandescents, and you'll never have to replace the LED lights again," Jacobson added. "The LEDs last 20,000 hours, and the typical lighting season is 315 hours. So unless you expect to be in charge of putting up the lights 60 years from now, you won't need to replace the LEDs. You're done. You're saving the environment and cutting energy costs at the same time."

Incandescent lights run $3 to $5 for a string, while LED lights are typically about $12 for a branded product and $6 for a non-branded product. The payback period, Jacobson estimates, is four and a half years.

You can find your LED holiday light strings at