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New Holiday Light Options Can Cut Electric Bills

Contact: Donna Coffin, Extension educator, 207-564-3301, dcoffin@extension.umaine.edu

DOVER-FOXCROFT — The holiday season is here and many homeowners and renters celebrate the spirit of the season with indoor and outdoor holiday lights. Elaborate lighting displays, however, can result in elevated electric bills.

Donna Coffin, UMaine Cooperative Extension educator in the Piscataquis County office, advises that holiday celebrants now have an opportunity to reduce their electric bills and still show their holiday spirit — with the new light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

LED holiday lights are very energy-efficient and will save money during the holiday season, making them ideal decorations, Coffin says. LED lights are virtually indestructible, last longer than standard holiday lights, reduce the risk of fire and stay lit if a single light goes out. With no filament or glass bulb in LED lights, they convert electricity directly to light without the heat.

The average cost of using a 500-foot string of the old C7 type holiday lights for six hours a day for 40 days (240 hours) is $134, according to Coffin. C7 lights are the old large light strings that get hot. Many people already have switched to mini-lights or twinkle lights, which cost about $35 a season to use. New LED holiday lights cost even less to run: less than $3 for the whole season, or 2 percent of the cost of the old C7 lights. Many families may find they can pay back the cost of new LED lights in one season, says Coffin.

LED flickering lights, which imitate flickering candles without the fire hazard, smoke or dripping wax, also are available, she adds.

Other cost-saving options for holiday lighting include fiber optic lighting that allows the illumination of multiple light points from one light source. Also, candelabra compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are great for candlesticks, use about 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. “Rope lights” also are suitable for indoor or outdoor use, and are ideal for decorating trees or for outlining doors and windows, Coffin says.

For more ideas on home energy conservation, visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Energy website at http://umaine.edu/ext-energy/.

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