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Do Your Part: Bright ideas to go green

Mon., Dec. 13, 2010

The holidays are here and it’s no wonder why this time of year is called the season of lights.

Bright lights are absolutely everywhere you look. They’re strung up outside the packed malls, on trees in our neighborhoods and inside our homes.

No one at my house likes the chore of untangling our holiday lights and checking for broken bulbs. And I don’t like the extra energy traditional strands of lights use.

Do your part this holiday season and shop for more efficient and durable lights.

If you still have a few of those old holiday light strands for inside or outside your home, use them. That’s the greenest option.

But if you need to replace broken strands or just need more lights, consider upgrading to the much more efficient Energy Star LED lights.

LEDs – or light emitting diodes – use 70 percent less energy than incandescent strings. They’re also much more durable and will last about 10 times longer than the conventional ones.

And because they are cool to the touch, they are much less of a fire hazard.

Sure, LED lights will cost you a bit more in the short run but certainly make up for it in a few years. Plus, they are cheaper now than ever.

There are a few ways to offset your costs. Some big-box stores and even some municipalities are offering incentives to trade in those energy-sucking holiday lights for energy-efficient LEDs.

Online retailer will once again accept and recycle old incandescent holiday lights and send you a discount good toward a new set of LEDs.

Another way you can give your incandescent set a new life is to donate it to a charity. Lights for Life is a nonprofit that collects and recycles old holiday lights in order to raise funds for children diagnosed with cancer.

You can also mail in your old lights to Christmas Light Source’s recycling program. The company uses the proceeds from recycling efforts to purchase books to donate to the Marines Toys for Tots.

Visit to get a list of regional programs and other recycling resources.

When shopping for new lights, don’t forget about the other holiday decorations that use bulbs. There are more varieties than ever of the electric candles that have LED lights. You can also find LED menorahs, garlands and even flameless tea lights.

If you want to go even greener, there are some stores and online sites which offer solar-powered holiday LED lights.

With most of us having the electric variety, remember to always unplug your lights before bed. There’s no need to waste electricity when no one is enjoying the display.

Go ahead and go all out with your holiday decor. Just make sure you do your part to use less energy and resources while you take in the sights of the season.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to

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