Episode 40: December 5, 2012
by Amanda Thomas
For the past few years, my team and I at Moxie Girl Household Assistants have helped countless clients hang their Christmas lights for the holidays, so my knowledge of Christmas lights is better than I would like to admit. Over the years, we have been asked by multiple clients if they should switch from incandescent Christmas lights to LED Christmas lights. They see the ads in the home improvement stores, but aren’t sure if switching is a good idea for them.
If you are wondering whether or not you should make the switch this year, I’ll give you the same tips I give to our clients when they are evaluating the switch to LED Christmas lights. Ask yourself these 3 questions to determine if you should jump ship:
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Question #1: Do My Incandescent Christmas Lights Still Work?
LED Christmas lights are not cheap, so I don’t recommend purchasing them unless you need to buy new Christmas lights. So the first thing to do is to test your incandescent lights to make sure they are all working. If they don’t light up right away when you plug them in, look for broken or missing bulbs. Replace those with new bulbs (hopefully you kept the little baggie of extra lights that come with all Christmas light sets), and see if that fixes the problem. In my experience, strands of incandescent Christmas lights typically last about 4-6 years, so if you know the lights are older, you may simply want to opt for a new set.
If you can get your trusty old incandescent Christmas lights to light up, I recommend continuing to use them. Once they go out though, bring them to your nearest home improvement store because many will give you a discount on a new strand of LED Christmas lights if you bring in your old incandescent ones.
Question #2: How Long Should I Use the Same Lights?
Once you’ve decided that you need to get new strands of Christmas lights, it’s time to consider if you should purchase incandescent or LED. LEDs will last 10 years or more, so they are a great option if you are living in a place where you plan to stay for a while. However, if you are thinking that you might move in a year or two, you may want to stick with the much less expensive incandescent lights.
As someone who moved a lot before settling in my now home (I lived in 7 different apartments in my first 5 years in Phoenix), I can tell you from great experience that it’s always best to go for the cheap option until you are in your permanent place. Let’s just say you purchase a few strands of Christmas lights this year, but then you move 6 months later. All of a sudden those blue lights that looked awesome in your first apartment that had white walls, make it feel like you are living in a bowl of blueberry Jello when you put them up in your new apartment that has blue walls. This isn’t so bad if you purchased $5 strands of incandescent Christmas lights, but it can be frustrating if you spent upwards of $100 on 5 strands of LED Christmas lights.
So until you know that you’re going to stay somewhere a while, I recommend buying the cheaper option.
Question #3: Will I Save Money by Investing in LEDs?
While LED Christmas lights are more costly up front, they may actually end up saving you money in the long run. LED lights use about one tenth the energy of incandescent lights, so if you put up a lot of lights, you may make back the money you spent on them in your first holiday season. If you only put up a couple of strands, it’s not very likely that you are going to see a big difference on your electric bill. If, however, your home could compete with Clark Griswold, you may want to think about switching to the LED option.
Another reason to consider switching to LED lights is if you are lacking electrical plugs on the exterior of your home. If you are using incandescent Christmas lights, you can typically only string together 2-5 strands from one plug before you blow a fuse in the strands. This can cause a dilemma if you only have 2 outlets on your home’s exterior. You either have to get really creative with extension cords and outlet splitters, or you can switch to LED Christmas lights. Because the LED lights use 10 times less energy, you can string together 20-50 of them just fine. Just make sure that when you connect lights, whether they are incandescent or LED strings, you only connect strands of the same wattage (50-bulb strands with other 50-bulb strands, 100-bulb strands with 100-bulb strands, and so on).
All in all, LED Christmas lights can be a great upgrade in your Christmas decorations, but I wouldn’t recommend tossing your incandescent lights just to jump on the trend. Wait until your trusty old lights don’t work anymore, then upgrade a little at a time. If you decorate your home’s exterior and interior, condense your working incandescent lights to the interior, and buy new LED lights for the exterior, or visa versa. Not only will it keep you from having to pay an arm and a leg for all new lights, but it will also help you feel like you are doing your part to keep your old lights out of the landfill until the very last year possible.
If you are looking for some more holiday inspiration, check out the Christmas Decorations board on my Pinterest page where I’ve put together some of the best holiday ideas I discovered online. That’s pinterest.com/thedomesticceo.
Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.
String of Christmas Lights and Christmas Tree images from Shutterfly