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Q & A: Holiday LEDs

By Diane MacEachern |
Learn the basics of holiday LEDs, and find out where you can properly dispose of your old ones.
UPDATED: 12/06/11 | Originally Published: 12/10/09

What's the deal with LED holiday lights? We've had our regular lights forever and I was thinking about upgrading to LED, but do you know if I could recycle my old ones? And do these LED ones come in as much variety as their traditional counterparts? Thanks for any tips!

LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are just as cheerful as mini-incandescents but much more energy-efficient. A string of 300 mini's cost on average $6.03 to operate; LEDs use so little energy, 280 of them will only cost $0.56 to operate. However, be aware that LEDs are usually more expensive than incandescent. Their higher purchase price can be offset by their durability; glass incandescent bulbs may only last one season, while the plastic-cased LEDS usually last much longer.

LEDs are available at most neighborhood hardware stores, as well as at specialty outlets like Brookstone and Ace Hardware. Forever Bright and Christmas Lights, Etc. are among several online vendors who offer a wide variety of bulb sizes and shapes, including icicle lights, snowflakes and strands in blue, yellow, red, orange, green and white. Many white LEDs give off a bit of a harsh glow. You can find a warmer white at Environmental

To recycle your old incandescents, start by contacting your municipal waste service to find out if they'll take them with other recyclables. If not, package the lights up in a cardboard box and mail them to, where they'll recycle them for you and give you a discount on your next LED purchase.

Any holiday light tips you want to share? Comment below!

Diane MacEachern is the author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, and a popular blog, Big Green Purse.

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