Now that Thanksgiving's tryptophan has worn off, it's time to get in gear for round two of holiday revelry--decking the halls.
The past few years, my family has followed a traditional Christmas decorating ritual. My father, sister and I merrily engage in self-absorbed activities (napping, watching TV, reading the newspaper, eating), while my mother is left to toil--unaided--with an unruly conifer. Occasionally, we'll give her a hand, placing an ornament here or there. Usually we'll just ask her to turn down the Messiah music . . . "Mom, I'm trying to nap!"
Today, I have decided to displace such a tradition to Christmases past. I'm lending a hand this year! No longer will my mother have to wrestle the tree through our narrow front door, only to find that it is too tall for our ceiling. Yesterday, I pledged to chip in and will help my mother by replacing our tired incandescent Christmas lights with newfangled LEDs (light emitting diodes).
With all due respect to Thomas Edison, LEDs, along with CFLS are the eco-lights of the future. Illuminated by the movement of electrons, not the burning of filaments, LEDs last longer and use less energy than conventional incandescents. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, just ten incandescent Christmas light strands, left on from dusk til dawn, produce up to 300 pounds of CO2. Lovely LEDs, on the other hand, produce a humble 30 pounds by comparison.
With a plethora of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from, you can't go wrong. And you'll save money. The Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., estimates that 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide could be cut, along with $250 million in energy costs, if every U.S. house switched standard incandescents to energy-saving LED Christmas lights. Best of all, LEDs don't spark or throw off heat, thus steering clear of the yuletide burning-bush phenomenon.
Even New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is catching on to the LED trend. In light of the Mayor's PlaNYC, the Rockefeller Christmas tree is covered in 30,000 LED bulbs powered by solar panels. According to CNN, the new LEDs will reduce the tree's electricity consumption from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. What's next Bloomberg, hybrid taxis, planting a million trees in New York City?
I'm sold! Commence the environmentally responsible holiday decorating extravaganza!
After ordering a gaggle of LED strands, I got down and dirty to excavate my family's tired lights from the dusty storage closet. Today, I'm packing up the strings and mailing them to HolidayLeds.com. Apparently the company will recycle retired incandescent strands before December 20th. The first 100 participants to send back their lights will receive one free set of LED lights; the next 100 will receive 10% off any LED purchase. Check here for the fine print.
The internet is ripe with LED e-tailers. Purchase online at trustworthy sites like 1000bulbs.com and HolidayLeds.com. If you prefer an in-store experience, ask your local hardware store to stock their shelves with LEDs (and CFLs for good measure). As a last resort, Home Depot, Lowes and Big Lots carry LED Christmas Lights too--just don't tell anyone I sent you!
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Check back here every Wednesday for Olivia Zaleski's thoughts and tips on living the green life.