Healthy Environment, Strong Communities, Accountable Government

L.E.D. Holiday Lights

Environmental Benefits
Electric bill savings
LIPA Rebate
Store Survey
About the Lead Warning on Light Sets

In "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," Clark Griswold strings 25,000 lights on his house, and then tries to track down the bad bulbs that he thinks are keeping the entire display from lighting. When a house guest unknowingly flips on the light switch in the garage that the extention cords for the lights are all run through, the house illuminates with a light that blinds the neighbors, the electric meter spins wildly, and the energy drain dims lights in the entire neighborhood until the auxillary nuclear reactor is switched online at the power plant. (If you never saw the movie, you can see the clip here.) Although not everyone goes to such extremes when decorating, the total energy used for holiday lights by homeowners across Long Island is significant.

When you decorate your home for the holidays, you can use energy more efficiently, help the environment, and save money.

Reduce Pollution and Global Warming Gases from Power Plants

L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode) lights use about one-tenth the electricity of super bright mini-lights, and as little as one-hundreth that of C7 incandescent lights. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if all conventional incandescent Christmas lights in the U.S. were replaced with L.E.D. lights, annual energy savings would total 2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) - enough to power 200,000 homes for a year.

If all Long Islanders converted to L.E.D. holiday lights, the Neighborhood Network estimates that approximately 108,744,000 kWh would be saved. This is equivalent to avoiding over 160,000 barrels of oil that would not need to be burned in local power plants. The result of avoiding this much oil consumption would be an environmental benefit of a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 68,950 tons, which is equal to eliminating the global warming, greenhouse gases from approximately 15,000 passenger cars taken off the roads for a year.

Save on Your Electric Bill

LIPA has reported that the cost for electricity to light 500 large incandescent holiday lights, 5 hours a day, for a month is about $20. The same number of L.E.D.s lit for the same amount of time would cost about 20¢. Below is a graph that show the relative electricity costs for lighting a typical Christmas tree 10 hours a day for a month.

Of course most families who decorate put up more than one tree worth of lights. A study by a research institute at the University of Central Florida found that the average increase in electricity usage for holiday lights is 4.4 kWh per day. ( The chart below shows how much money could be saved on electric bills by switching to L.E.D.s, based on a few different usage patterns. The costs are based on holiday lights lit 10 hours per day for a month, at 12¢ per kWh.

Most strings of L.E.D. lights are rated for both indoor and outdoor use. They are less breakable than standard lights, and last longer (as much as 100,000 hours indoors, and 50,000 hours outdoors). L.E.D.s are also safer because they produce much less heat.

Although L.E.D. holiday lights cost more to purchase than conventional mini-lights, they pay for themselves in a few years because they don't have to be replaced as often and reduce your electric bill. LIPA is again offering their residential customers a rebate on the purchase of L.E.D. holiday lights bought between October 1st and December 31st, 2007. The rebate is $2 per package. You can download an instant coupon from the LIPA website ( and use it at the following participating stores:
* Ace Hardware
* Do it Best
* Home Depot
* Kmart
* Lowe's
* Sears
* True Value

L.E.D. holiday lights one more example of energy saving products that may cost more up front, but which save in the long run. Other energy saving products include compact flourescent lightbulbs, Energy Star ® appliances and office equipment, hybrid vehicles, home insulation, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. For more about these products see our energy saving tips.

L.E.D. lights come in many different styles including flame-tip, mini-light, globe and multi-faceted. L.E.D.s in the size and shape of larger C7 bulbs and L.E.D. rope lights are also available. Colors include red, yellow, green, white, blue, gold and/or amber.

This holiday season consider switching to safe, durable, economical L.E.D. lights. Brighten your home in a way that cares for the planet.

Long Island Stores Carry L.E.D.s

In the past, L.E.D. lights have been difficult to find. Now you can find them at many large retailers in the area. In 2005 the Neighborhood Network surveyed 30 Long Island stores to determine the availability of L.E.D. holiday lights. Click here to download a pdf version of our report on L.E.D. holiday lights. We found that the following Recommended Stores offer one or more L.E.D product choices among their selection of holiday lights.

  • BJS

(Call to check on availability of L.E.D. lights, some stores have been selling out.)

Neighborhood Network Issues Program Director, Beth Fiteni at the press conference announcing our survey results.

Commercial grade L.E.D. lights, which can be strung in longer sequences, are available from LEDGen Lighting.

In 2005 Newsday covered our survey and the LIPA rebate repeatedly

  • "LI's 'Energy Grinch' urged to see the light" Newsday 11/26/05.
  • "LIPA rebates for customers who use certain holiday lights" Newsday 11/29/05.
  • Veiwpoints article: "Holiday lighting can be beautiful and cost-effective" Newsday 12/11/05.
  • "LIPA sees less power use for holiday" Newsday 1/3/06

In 2005, following the media coverage of our survey and the LIPA rebate, there was increased demand for L.E.D. lights at Long Island stores. One retailer emailed us that there had been a run on L.E.D. lights since the articles appeared, and that they intended to stock more next year. We have received reports that a number of stores sold out their supplies in 2005, including Hicks Nurseries, some Target stores, BJ's in Setauket, Sam's Club in Medford, and Lowes in Medford. Remaining selections in other stores may be limited.

If you do not find L.E.D. lights at a store, be sure to ask about them. Retailers will be making their decisions on what to stock next year based on consumer interest this year.

About the lead warning on new holiday lights.

Many new strings of holiday lights, not just L.E.D. lights, and some new artificial Christmas trees have warnings about lead content. This is a result of a California law that requires all consumer product with lead and other toxins to be labeled.

A small amount of lead is used to make PVC plastic that sheaths the wires more flexible, to prevents cracking that could result in short circuits and fires. However, as the plastic ages it can break down and release dust that does contain lead, which is a neuro-toxin. Precuations should be taken.

  • Do not assume light sets without the warning do not have lead. Only products labeled for sale in California are required to carry the warning, and older sets before the passage of the law are likely to have lead as well.
  • Children should not handle strings of lights.
  • Adults should wash their hands after handling light sets.
  • Lead is not absorbed through the skin, the danger is it will be ingested through hand to food, or hand to mouth contact, so hand washing is the best precaution.

Below are some links to help you find L.E.D. lights online:

Thow Away Your Old-fashioned, Incandescent Holiday Lights!



Neighborhood Network
7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
Advocates for Long Island's Environment