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TRADI NG POST Giving


the gift of effi ciency


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Try LED light strands—they consume far less energy and last up to 10 times as long as traditional incandescent lights. Source: GE


By Brian Sloboda Cooperative Research Network H


oliday decorating can cause spikes in your January electric bill. One great way to keep your light displays from breaking the bank is to invest in light-emit- ting diodes, or LEDs.


LED holiday lights are: ✓ Energy effi cient. They use 70 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light


strings. ✓ Long-lasting. They boast a lifespan up to


10 times longer than incandescent lamps. ✓ Safe. They stay cool to the touch, reducing


the risk of fi re. ✓ Sturdy. Bulbs are made of epoxy, not glass, making them much more durable than other lights.


LED holiday lights come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and lengths and are available at many home improvement, wholesale, drug, and grocery stores. Although LEDs might be more expensive than incandescent lights at the time of purchase, energy savings over their life make them a big money saver. And prices continue to fall down as the technology becomes less expensive. At Ho- meDepot.com, you can get a 50-count strand of white lights or multicolored lights for around $12.


The brightness and color of LED lights


have also come a long way over the past few years. For white lights, you can choose between cool white (a bright, icy-blue white) or warm white, (a yellow tint that’s the closest to a white incandescent replacement).


Make sure the lights you buy are labeled for indoor or outdoor use, depending on where you want to place them. Decorating outside with indoor lights can shorten the life of the bulbs.


For even more energy savings, use a timer to turn on holiday lights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. When purchasing your lights, make sure the


packaging bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label. That means an independent testing group has thoroughly checked the product for safety hazards such as fi re and shock. One more thing to keep an eye out for in- volves lumen output of the lights. Tradition- ally, lightbulbs have been based on their power use—or how many watts they consume. Begin- ning in January 2012, all lightbulbs will carry a label showing the lumens of the bulb, or how bright it is. More lumens means a brighter light; fewer lumens a dimmer light. Careful shopping can save money on the monthly electric bill while giving your loved ones—and the neighborhood—a festive holiday display. OL


Brian Sloboda is a senior program manger spe- cializing in energy effi ciency for the Cooperative Re- search Network, a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, ser- vice arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profi t electric cooperatives. Additional content provided by E Source.


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NOVEMBER 2011 33


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