Holiday lighting is festive, cozy and sets the mood of the holiday season. Illuminating the months of winter has long been a part of the Christmas tradition, and each year at this time, cities and houses turn their Christmas lights on. But the extension of Christmas lighting periods and the increasing quantities of Christmas light displays has led to wasted energy and, more widely, to light pollution. So before plugging in your lights, and without becoming a Grinch, this is what you should know about the environmental consequences of decorative lights.
Regardless of how great outside Christmas lights may be to see, they require a lot of energy and are an immense waste of our planet resources. According to a report commissioned by the Department of Energy, holiday lighting consumes more than six terawatt-hours per year, the equivalent of the total electricity consumption of 500,000 homes in one month. It is hard to ignore the environmental consequences of this unnecessary electricity consumption. The energy used in powering seasonal lighting results in the wasteful burning of coal, oil and natural gas. The unwanted byproducts of this can include smoke, acid rain, and carbon dioxide emissions.
Similarly, the regular incandescent Christmas bulbs we mostly use to decorate our houses are particular energy wasters. Over the course of the year, we watch our power consumption, trying to be green by saving energy, yet when the holidays arrive, we leave lights on for hundreds of hours. Every household hanging Christmas lights should know that each bulb turned on in the name of Christmas will increase emissions of greenhouse gases. 15,500 hot air balloons could be filled with the carbon dioxide produced by our holiday lighting, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Regular Christmas bulbs are also dangerous for your own health and security. At Christmas, there are three times more household fires, mostly due to the combination of hot light bulbs and dried out Christmas trees surrounded by paper. Moreover, according to a CNN report on the toxic dangers of Christmas lights, those bulbs appeared to have high levels of lead, that experts say are enough to be dangerous to children. “I wouldn’t needlessly expose [children] to a lead-based hazard that could have significant lifelong consequences for that child’s cognitive capacity or their attention or other health problems,” said Dr Trasandem, a specialist in children’s environmental health at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Although Christmas lights will never be completely eco-friendly and 100% safe, you may not have to shut all your holiday lighting off yet. There is a better alternative to the traditionally toxic and inefficient decorative lights.
Switching to LEDs
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the best alternative for your holiday lighting needs. LED-maniac Tim Naughton, running Light 4 Fun, explained that LED Christmas lights only use 10 percent of the power needed by incandescent lights. LEDs also last as much as 10 times longer, with an operating life of more than 20,000 hours. The use of LED Christmas lights on the Champs Elysees, Paris allows the City to save an important amount of electricity. During the whole holiday lights season, the total power consumption will only be 31,000 kWh, whereas incandescent lights were consuming 480,000 kWh. Moreover, LED bulbs don’t pose the same fire risk as the incandescent kind. Therefore, even if LED lights are more expensive, in the long run, their low level of power consumption will reduce your Christmas electricity bills.
Using Energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, and putting your Christmas lights on a timer are two very easy ways to minimize the amount of electricity you use to power your lights. Solar Christmas lights are also another alternative to green your holidays lights, but their brightness is more uncertain.
But before hanging your new Christmas Light Displays, mail your old inefficient lights to HolidayLEDs.com, and they will recycle the individual components and give you a coupon for 25 percent off any LED lights they sell. See! Now you can be green at Christmas and save money without being a Grinch!