By Diana Lee,
During the holiday season, sophomore Kyle Powell, his family and his neighbors used to turn their small cul-de-sac into a winter wonderland decorated with lights. Known as “Candy Cane Court,” the festive neighborhood in Wildhorse attracted many visitors.
“We used to have maybe like a thousand–more than a thousand, like a hundred thousand–incandescent lights, and we would’ve switched to LED, but we started back in the early 2000s, so it wasn’t a thing [back then],” Powell said.
Powell and his family stopped putting up decorations in 2013 because their neighbors decided to stop the tradition. However, they still decorate their own home, and over the years, they have switched entirely to LED.
“[Our family] doesn’t regret our decision because we live in Davis,” Powell added. “And people are like ‘you gotta do earthy stuff,’ and LED fits.”
Holiday lighting in the past has accounted for 2.22 terawatt-hours of energy use annually in the United States. This roughly equals to the energy usage of about 200,000 homes every year, according to an article published by the Department of Energy in 2003.
From an environmental perspective, discarding something that still works just adds to the waste stream, and is hardly ever recommended. However, when it comes to trying to save energy around the holiday season, there’s nothing better to do than to throw out old incandescent Christmas lights and replace them with light-emitting diodes (LED).
LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights and last about 25 times longer–25,000 hours more–according to the Department of Energy.
Additionally, 90 percent of the energy coming from incandescent lights is given off as heat, and all of that wasted energy is equivalent to wasted money for manufacturing processes.
Sophomore Jun Kim and her family have recently abandoned incandescent lights for LEDs.
“[LED] lights are both cost efficient and energy efficient,” Kim said. “It’s easier for us to keep our lights on because we aren’t as worried about the costs, and they won’t like, go out or anything because they aren’t cheap quality.”
Although LED lights are more expensive, within a couple of years, the amount of money they save will start to recover the original cost, and in the long term, earn you money. They also last longer, so expenses will not be put into buying them over and over again.
In addition to kinder electricity bills, LEDs are also better for the environment.
“If usage is 50 percent less, the demand on the utilities is less by 50 percent,” said Michael Siminovitch, Director of the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC). “This has an immediate impact on carbon–burning coal, natural gas or any other types of carbon-based power plants.”
Not only do LEDs not contain toxic elements, but their longer life spans allow for lower carbon emissions. Replacements are also less frequent, so fewer resources are needed.
Since 2012, about 49 million LEDs have been installed in the U.S., which has saved about $675 million in annual energy costs.
Switching to LED lights over the next two decades can reduce the energy consumption for lighting by almost 50 percent, and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions. This will save the U.S. more than $250 billion in additional costs.
“LED lighting is the most economic form of lighting you can have,” Siminovitch said. “If you’re going to engage in holiday lighting statements, you should be doing it in the most [energy] efficient way possible.”