Live Green and Earn Points


Greener Holiday Lights

By Leah Ingram |

One of the biggest holiday energy hogs is all the lights! Here are four ways to stay festive and save energy and money.

UPDATED: 11/30/11 | Originally Published: 12/02/09

So what are the chances that you began decorating your house for the holidays right after Thanksgiving? I know that many families go out and get a tree once the turkey is eaten and the dishes cleaned, and if you're one of them, here's some food for thought: one of the biggest energy hogs at the holidays is your holiday lights. In addition, these lights can pose a fire risk.

So let's say you're in the market for new holidays lights: here are four ideas that show how going green with your holiday lights can save you green:

1. Recycle Your Old Lights

If you want to dispose of your old, broken holiday lights, did you know that you can recycle them? Just like your CFL light bulbs, holiday lights can be broken down and made into new materials. Check out some local hardware stores, which will sometimes accept traditional, incandescent holiday lights for recycling. You can also send in your old lights to places like, which will recycle the lights for you.

2. Buy Better Lights

If you do end up buying new holiday lights, consider purchasing LEDs. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights have a bunch of "green" benefits. They use 10 times less energy than incandescent mini-lights and 100 times less energy than standard bulbs, they last more than 50,000 hours, and you'll likely not have to replace or recycle them for a long time since they're virtually indestructible. Here's the part I like best: If one bulb does burn out, the other bulbs will stay lit, so you can easily replace just the bad one.

3. Put Your Lights on a Timer

To further maximize holiday lighting savings, use timers to limit light displays to no more than six evening hours a day. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple your energy costs — and create four times the pollution.

4. Practice Safe Lighting

On the safety side, be sure that you use indoor lights, well, indoors only — and lights designed for outdoor use outside the house only. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but many people make this mistake, and that's how fires start. According to Underwriters Laboratories — the folks that put that "UL" on safe electrical items — indoor-use only light strings are marked with UL's green holographic label. Indoor or outdoor-use light strings are marked with UL's red holographic label.

Everyone loves the look of twinkle lights; now we can take some small steps to make them as environmentally friendly as they are beautiful.

What holiday decoration have you proudly made green? Share your stories and tips below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Sue P. 3 months ago
    For years I've been making my own ornaments, mainly unbreakable. I use supplies that I have on hand, sometimes repurposing.
  • Linda W. 1 year ago
    Christmas doesn't have to be energy hog time! Those LEDs are great and last a very long time!
  • Amy H. 1 year ago
    We use the solar LED lights on our tree. No electric cost at all. And the best thing with the solar lights they turn on by them selfs at dusk and off at dawn. We always reuse boxes and bows from previous years.
  • A B. 1 year ago
    I use cracker boxes, cereal boxes to pack presents in instead of buying wrapping paper.
  • Floyd G. 1 year ago
    Using a timer for the lights on your Christmas tree is a great idea. LED lights are an excellent choice for the tree and they use a minimal amount of electricity as compared to the traditional Christmas tree lights.
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