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Energy Efficiency

Is Your Holiday Lighting Naughty or Nice?

Shoot for saving energy and end up on Santa’s happy list

We all want to be on Santa’s nice list, but if it’s been a while since you replaced your holiday lights, you could be on the naughty list for wasting electricity. Don’t worry, you don’t need to nix your holiday light show—at least not entirely. There are a lot of easy steps you can take to make your festive displays more energy-efficient.

If you haven’t strung your twinkling lights, be sure to use LED strands. LEDs consume far less energy than incandescent lights, and they can last 40 holiday seasons. LED lights come in various colors, including a warm white for that old-time holiday glow. 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, so no burnt fingers.

The energy savings can really add up: Using an LED bulb over the holidays will cost you an estimated 45¢ compared to $5 for mini incandescent string lights and $75 for large incandescent string lights.

You can also save energy with a programmable light timer. Most models cost between $10 to $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 to turn 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. Or try smart holiday lighting that you can control with your smartphone for even more customizable settings.

Turn off ambient lights. Chances are, you don’t need to have your illuminated Christmas tree shining brightly and your house lights on. Adjust your indoor lighting to account for your décor, especially when you have glowing decorations.

If Clark Griswold’s Christmas décor style is a bit much for your taste, consider a more natural approach. Many Christmas tree farms, and even retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot, give away greenery clippings from recently trimmed trees. With a little twine, extra ornaments and some 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 additional cost to your energy bill. For interior lighting options, consider LED candles to add a holiday glow.

There are many ways to decorate that require no electricity at all. Reflective decorations like tinsel and mirrors can glimmer just as brightly as lightbulbs. The holidays are also a great time to get crafty with your family and make homemade decorations like paper chains and popcorn strings.