'Tis the season to practice energy efficiency
Taking energy efficiency seriously this holiday season can be the start of an energy- and money-saving tradition for many holidays to come. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources suggests replacing traditional incandescent decorative lights with high-efficient LED bulbs, one of many ways to conserve energy during the holidays.
"Consumers can lift their holiday spirits by reducing electric and heating bills," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "Whether purchasing holiday lights or gifting an appliance or electronic device, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to ensure that the product meets energy-efficiency requirements and to reduce energy loads for years to come."
LEDs offer many advantages
ENERGY STAR-qualified LED decorative lights are exceptionally energy efficient, many using up to 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. For example, the electricity consumed by just one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LEDs--or enough to power two 24-foot strings.
The DOE estimates the cost of buying and operating LED lights for 10 holiday seasons would be $17.99 compared with $122.19 for incandescent bulbs. In addition to consuming less electricity and costing less, LED holiday lights are:
· Safer. LEDs are much cooler than incandescent, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
· Sturdier. LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are much more resistant to breakage.
· Longer lasting. The same LED string could be in use for 40 holiday seasons.
· Easier to install. Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.
Timers and dimmers for those holiday lights will help conserve even more energy. Watch for rebates that will help defray the cost of LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting products; many electric utilities offer rebates for LEDs (visit www.dsireusa.org). Also, keep watch for post-holiday sales on LEDs and other ENERGY STAR decorative lighting. And be sure to recycle your old holiday lights. Check out the Clean Energy Resource Teams website to find out where you can recycle old lights in Minnesota.
Other holiday energy-saving suggestions
There are many other ways to practice energy conservation during the holidays:
· Buy energy-efficient gifts, such as ENERGY STAR TVs, refrigerators, and computers that are environmentally friendly and will save energy for many years. Search the Internet for "eco-friendly gift," "energy-efficient gift," or "solar-powered gift" ideas.
· Consider recyclable gift wrap options, such as newspaper and magazine pages. And be sure to recycle your gift wrap.
· Turn down your thermostat if you're going to be away from home for an extended period of time; install a programmable thermostat to control the heating and cooling of your home year-round.
· Entertain efficiently. When guests arrive, turn down your thermostat, because the combination of the stove, hot food, and warm bodies will help keep your house comfortable.
· Close your fireplace damper when a fire is not in use and install airtight doors to prevent warm air from escaping.
ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that helps save money and protects the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. It makes sure that appliances, lighting and electronics are using less energy than their older, energy-hog counterparts.
For more energy-saving holiday tips, visit the DOE Energy Saver website at www.energysavers.gov. For more information on energy efficiency and energy conservation, visit the Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources website and check out two consumer energy guides: "Home Envelope" and "Appliances, Lighting, Electronics."