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Green Lights

Holiday 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-emitting diodes, or LEDs. LED holiday lights are:

• Energy efficient. They use 70 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light strings.

• Long-lasting. They can last up to 10 times longer than incandescent lamps.

• Safe. They stay cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.

• Sturdy. Bulbs are made of epoxy, not glass, making them 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, drug, and grocery stores. Although LEDs might cost more to buy than incandescent lights, energy savings over their life make them a big money saver.

The brightness and color of LED lights have 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 more energy savings, use a timer to turn on holiday lights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Make sure the packaging bears the Underwriters Laboratories label. That means an independent testing group has checked the product for safety hazards such as fire and shock.

One more thing to consider involves lumen output of the lights. Traditionally, bulbs have been based on their power use—how many watts they consume. Beginning in January, all bulbs will carry a label showing the lumens of the bulb, or how bright it is. More lumens mean a brighter light; fewer lumens a dimmer light.

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