By Erik Hyrkas (originally posted on Energy.gov)
With holidays almost upon us and home decorating to do, costs and energy savings should be on the brain. So as you put the finishing touches on that giant lighting display, be sure to read these energy-efficient holiday decorating tips below:
Those old incandescent holiday lights you have been putting up forever are terribly inefficient, and despite careful storage, often emerge only halfway lit with many being tossed in landfills. Instead, save a bundle by replacing them with ENERGY STAR® qualified LED light strands. In addition to using 70% less energy than traditional bulbs, they're brighter, eco-friendly, and are safer, as they are much cooler than incandescent lights. In addition, they are easier to install—up to 24 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. They last ten times longer, have no filaments or glass to break, and costs are similar to the age-old standard. If you prefer white lights with the look of incandescent lights, look for "warm" white on the label.
Savvy shopping will save you money. You can find local rebates and coupons on ENERGY STAR® qualified Decorative Light Strings at many of your local hardware and department stores. In addition, these lights have a three-year warranty, come in a variety of colors, and have indoor and outdoor models.
Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night, depending on your preferences. You can save a bundle keeping light displays on only 8 hours of the evening (when you can see them). If you are still using traditional incandescent bulbs, this tip is even more important to cut down on energy costs.
Not everything is about strands of lights. Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your resources for shine. You could even mirror your next door neighbors' frighteningly costly display with a string of silver bells on your railing. Don't forget the ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs, for electricity- free age-old traditions still bring holiday cheer.