Christmas Light Guilt Got You Down?

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Does your inner eco-warrior wag his finger at you every time you plug in that string of bulbs? Your concern may be unfounded, depending on where you use the bulbs.

The Beauty Of Using Inefficient Christmas Lights Indoors

We all know that incandescent bulbs are very inefficient. A standard 60 watt incandescent light bulb has a 2.1% luminous efficiency and smaller bulbs are even less efficient, probably around 1.5%. A 100-bulb string of Christmas lights uses 45 watts, or 0.45 watts per bulb. At 1.5% luminous efficiency only 0.675 watts actually get turned into light. The rest? It gets turned into heat. As long as the lights are inside of your house that heat will displace some of the work that your heater has to do, assuming that you live somewhere where you need to heat your home around Christmas.

The Problem With Using Inefficient Christmas Lights Outdoors

Using the same light string outdoors uses the same amount of electricity except that the 44 watts of heat energy produced are wasted. For outdoor applications LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, which have an efficiency of up to 22%, but much lower in conventional applications may be a better choice. There are drawbacks to LED lights, as discussed recently in TreeHugger Forums.

How Can I Keep My Holiday Energy Use Down

Bulb selection is only one factor in holiday lighting. You can also reduce your electricity use by ensuring that lighting is not left on when no one is there to enjoy it and that it doesn't remain on all night. One way to accomplish this is by putting your indoor Christmas lights on an occupancy sensor, like the Watt Stopper Isolé IDP-3050 power strip, or putting your outdoor lights on a programmable time.Pablo Päster is a weekly columnist for TreeHugger.com, an experienced greenhouse gas engineer and the Senior Environmental Program Manager at Hara Software. Send your questions to Pablo(at)TreeHugger.com or submit the via this form and connect to his RSS feed.
More Articles On Christmas Lights:
Pine Cone Christmas LED Lights
TreeHugger Forums: Switching to LED Holiday Lights
Reckefeller Center's Christmas Tree Lights Up Holiday Season With LEDs!
Free LED Christmas Lights - A Good Idea From A Public Utility

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