Decorating your home and Christmas tree with lights is a fun, festive way to celebrate the season; But, is it environmentally friendly? Last year, Consumer Reports studied the differences between incandescent and LED lights and reported on what your family can do to celebrate the greenest Christmas possible.
The study compared incandescent and LED bulbs in three sizes (mini, C7 and C9) and compared costs on 50 feet of light string for 300 hours. Other considerations taken were moisture, hot and cold temperatures and UV light.
From Consumer Reports:
Price. It’s a toss-up. Per string, LEDs can be a bit more expensive than incandescents. The C7 and C9 sets we bought had the same number of bulbs as incandescents, but the LED were shorter (16.7 feet vs. 25 feet), so we needed three strings for a 50-foot wrap, vs. two incandescent strings. As a result, it cost $30 to $40 more to wrap a tree in C7 and C9 LEDs. Mini LED strings we tested were the same length as incandescents (25 feet) but cost $6 more.
Energy use and costs. LEDs won. They used 1 to 3 kilowatt hours of energy, compared with 12 to 105 kWh for the incandescents, saving $1 to $11.
Durability. LEDs won. All LED bulbs were working even after 4,000-plus hours, while each string of incandescents had one or more bulbs burn out before 2,000 hours. The LED bulbs we bought were also plastic and therefore less likely to break than the glass incandescents.
Brightness. Incandescents won. The C9 and C7 incandescents were five to six times brighter than the LEDs, though the mini incandescents were slightly dimmer than the mini LEDs.
Consumer Report’s take. LEDs are better for the environment; run much cooler, reducing fire risk; should last longer; and could save money eventually. But it’s apt to take more than one holiday season for the savings to kick in, and you might not realize any savings if payback takes more than three 90-day seasons. As a rule, you shouldn’t use decorative lights longer than that.
You tell us! Do you use LED or incandescent Christmas lights?