Saving (Energy) for the Holidays.
No, LED (light emitting diode) decorative and festive seasonal holiday lights, by themselves, won’t save the world from global warming, cut air pollution noticeably or reduce the world’s dependance on fossil fuels.
But they are on the to-do list of technologies we should switch to.
LED seasonal lights are a winner among green technologies. Pretty much they are as advertised. They consume considerably less energy; up to 90 percent or so less than conventional incandescent lights. They should last for many years, if not decades, given the history of other LEDs used in electronics. They are cool to the touch, so there’s less risk of setting something on fire, like your Christmas tree. And they are affordable. Sure, in terms of percentages they are many times more costly than conventional lights (which in some cases are nearly given away) but the overall cash outlay, particularly for homeowners, they are not a bank breaker.
And the term seasonal or holiday light is a bit of a misnomer. Strings of glowing colorful or white lights can used year-round to add a festive atmosphere at home, a business or office. And for clever artsy types decorative LEDs can be used as general illumination: lighting up a real or artificial tree for example in place of a floor lamp. (Not to read by, just to add some light to a dark space.)
If any fault can be found in these products it apparently has been repaired. The white light in the first strings that appeared on the market had a blueish hue, not the comfortable yellowish glow of incandescents. The white used for some LEDs on the market now is warmer, less harsh. (The blue-white is still out there, though, if you like that better.)
Generally speaking, on a global scale, holiday lights of all kinds consume only a tiny fraction of the world’s electricity. Still, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that Americans will consume about 2220 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity during the 30-day holiday season with incandescent holiday lights. Thus, so the EPA concludes, a mere 20 percent shift to LED holiday lights would save more than 440 GWh of electricity each year. So, in terms of cutting back on energy consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions even, by a small amount, it is worth the effort. All of us have to do our share, don’t we?
Power companies for the past few years have been suggesting that homeowners and businesses switch to LEDs for the holiday season. One LED distributor, HolidayLEDs.com, a new e-commerce company located in Michigan, would like to help the US utility companies push LED holiday lights a little harder by offering a 10-percent discount on LED purchases to customers of participating companies. All the utilities have to do is promote the LED lights on their websites or newsletters and include a discount coupon code provided HolidayLEDs.com to be used for online purchases through the company.
That’s it. Everyone wins. The utilities get a decrease in power consumption during the 30-day US winter holiday season, which sees a peak in power consumption from being the shortest days of the year compounded by the addition of holiday lights. The utilities, too, get to show a little holiday cheer by showing their greenness. HolidayLEDs.com gets a few more sales. And the rest of us might realize some comfort in knowing that some action is being taken to combat climate change.
There’s some evidence, too - at least north of the US border - that utility companies are becoming a little more proactive in getting their customers switched to LEDs for the holidays. Manitoba Hydro is encouraging its customers to make the switch to energy-efficient LED Christmas lights by offering a $5 coupon to customers who trade in their C7 (5-watt) or C9 (7-watt) incandescent lights. (Mini lights are NOT accepted for turn-ins.) Customers can get a maximum of three $5 rebate vouchers per household. Manitoba Hydro has agreements with a few retailers to accept the vouchers until November 25.
Manitoba Hydro Christmas LED offer