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Is Your Holiday Décor Naughty or Nice?

LEDs let you dazzle while saving money

Whether you’ve already decked your halls or you’re just getting started, there’s still time to incorporate energy savings into your holiday décor.

If you haven’t strung your twinkle lights, be sure to use LED light strands. LEDs consume far less energy than incandescent lights and can last up to 40 holiday seasons. They’re also safer because they’re made with epoxy lenses, not glass, making them more resistant to breaking—and they’re cool to the touch.

If you missed Santa’s memo about energy-saving LEDs and your holiday lights are already up, you can still save on lighting costs. All you need is a programmable light timer. Most models cost $10–$25 and can be purchased through online retailers like Amazon or at big-box stores like Lowe’s or Walmart. With a light timer, you can easily program when you want your holiday lights turned on and off, which will save you time, money and energy. If you’re using a timer for exterior lighting, make sure it’s weatherproof and intended for outdoor use.

If an all-out and bright style is a bit much for your taste, consider a more natural approach. Many Christmas tree farms and even home improvement retailers give away greenery clippings from recently trimmed trees. With a little twine, extra ornaments and sparkly ribbon, you can create beautiful garlands and wreaths to hang over your front door or windows. To add extra twinkle at night, install solar-powered spotlights to illuminate your new (essentially free) greenery. Solar spotlights can vary in price, but you should be able to purchase a quality set of four for about $30—and because they run on energy from the sun, there’s no hit to your energy bill.

Laser lights are also an energy-efficient option and are very easy to install because you simply stab them into the ground and point them at your house—and they only use about 0.005 watts per hour. You can also purchase laser lights with programmed patterns and twinkly designs, eliminating the need for other decorations. Lasers come in red, green, blue and other colors.

There are also LED projectors that project large images onto a wall, such as snowflakes, reindeer and stars that move in a rotation. These devices use around 6 watts per hour.

Let’s not forget those 3D items that sit in the yard, waving cheerily to passersby. This category includes inflatables and wire frame structures covered in string lights. A 5-foot-tall snowman prestrung with LED lights uses around 9 watts per hour. Compare that to an inflatable Frosty, which has only a few LED lights but also a fan that runs continuously to keep it inflated—using around 60 watts per hour. Inflatables may not be efficient, but they’re still better than an old string of lights.