Miniature bulbs consume less than half a watt per bulb. However, because of their small size, consumers typically use twice as many of them, with strings containing 50 to 100 bulbs each, so most people using them don't end up reducing their energy needs at all.
The most cost-effective choice for holiday decorating is a string of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LEDs are semiconductors constructed from solid-state chips. These chips convert electricity into single wavelengths of light. Because they need no filament or glass bulb, they produce very little heat, making them safer and more energy-efficient, using less than 95 percent of the electricity conventional bulbs use.
An added bonus: If one LED is damaged or fades out, the remaining bulbs aren't affected. Instead of suddenly burning out, LED lights gradually fade to darkness.
array of LED options now available
Hydro provides a clear example of how much money you stand to save by switching
from incandescent to LED lighting this winter. The estimate is based on decorating
100 feet of windows or eaves on a home.
To compare the costs of the three types of holiday lighting options, Toronto Hydro provides an estimate based on decorating 100 feet of building outline, be it windows or eaves. The three options compared are regular incandescents (four strings of 25 bulbs each for a total of 700 watts), incandescent mini-lights (four strings of 100 bulbs each for a total of 200 watts) and LEDs (four strings of 70 bulbs each for a total of 13 watts).
Assuming the lights are on four hours a day over a period of six weeks, and using Toronto Hydro's current rate of .0847 cents per kWh, the cost would be $9.96 for the seven-watt incandescents versus $2.85 for the mini-lights. And the LED strawberry lights? It's almost too little to mention at a mere 19 cents for the entire six-week period.
Don't forget that this is a conservative outdoor display -- most of us rely on additional lights indoors to brighten Christmas trees and evergreen garlands. So, you stand to save a lot of money by starting to switch to LED lights. To help you make the switch, many electricity providers and major retail chain stores are offering coupons for purchasing LED lights and light exchanges if you bring in your old incandescent bulbs.
More ways to save
For starters, try cooking your turkey on the outdoor barbecue this year; great cooks swear by this method. Or, better yet, try deviating from the traditional and serve something that requires much less cooking time such as roast lamb or chicken curry. With more room in your oven, you can double up with pies sharing space with the main course.
After the meal is cooked, don't let your oven keep all that lovely heat to itself. Open the door and turn down the thermostat. And don't forget that we humans generate heat too. Once all your guests arrive, you can lower the furnace temperature as good spirits warm your holiday season.
Diana McLaren is a writer in Toronto.
|-- Posted: Dec. 6, 2006