The holiday season is here and this means you probably put up some decorative lights somewhere around your home or office. Christmas lights have definitely advanced over the years. LED lights are significantly over taking the market share. Honestly, I don’t know which ones are overall better. One thing I do know is if you put up a lot of lights, the LED’s will save you money on your electric bill (There is a great example at the end of this post that shows how much you could save). In general, LED bulbs do last longer, but I have heard people complain that they rust on exterior Christmas lights, and don’t last long. Do your research before spending the money on new lights. My goal for next season is to post a blog on which option is better; incandescent or LED? (Incandescent light bulbs are heat sources with a byproduct of light. So when it comes to regular light fixtures, make sure you are using either CFL or LED bulbs).
The real topic for this post is to consider adding timed and motion lights to your home and office. With all those Christmas lights inside and out, putting those lights on timers is a great way to reduce your energy consumption and make turning them on and off more convenient. Before I started using timers, I started the season off well by making sure I turned the lights on and off consistently. As the season went on, I’ll admit, I got lazy and was not very consistent. Now that I have my lights on timers, I don’t have to think about it, they just turn on and off when they are supposed to.
You can also benefit from increased safety with timed lights. Many people like me don’t usually get home until after dark. To conserve energy, I am very good about turning off all my interior lights before I leave the house in the morning. Before I started using timed lights, I walked into a dark house. Not only does this increase the chance of tripping over something, it increases the chance of walking in on an intruder. Having an interior light turn on prior to you getting home minimizes many risks. Most of the new home alarm systems have key fobs that allow you to turn on and off the system when you get home. Many of these systems allow you to hook up a specific light, which allows you to use the fob to turn it on when you pull in the driveway.
Motion sensing lights are not the best solution for Christmas lights, but they are a great addition to everyday lights at your home and office. For example, my Father has always used these in his garage. I think we have all been in a situation where you were a guest at someone’s home and they ask you to get something out of the garage refrigerator. You open the door, its dark and you can’t find the switch (honestly I have this problem even at a house I am familiar with). Once you have the light on the next problem is trying to turn the light off while holding whatever it is you got out of the refrigerator. Holding something with two hands, opening a door and turning off the light at the same time is a recipe for a lot of swearing and probably dropping whatever it is you have in your hands.
Besides the convenience factor, safety is probably the biggest advantage to motion sensing lights. For example, I live in a second floor apartment. I usually don’t get home until dark. As soon as I am about to take the first step up the stairs, my outdoor light turns on. Not only does this make it a safer walk up the stairs, it makes it much easier to find my key and put it into the lock. Another huge benefit is keeping unwanted people off or out of your property. If someone is trying to break into your home, they will think twice if a light all of the sudden turns on.
Using motion and timed lights won’t save you enough money to make you rich. What it will do is make your home a safer environment and save you a little money. It’s a small habit in conjunction with other small energy saving habits that have a potential to save you money instead of giving it to the utility companies. The price of motion sensing lights range depending on the type you are looking for (under $10 to $100+). An inexpensive type that is great for the inside of a garage is one made by Westek. Amazon.com is a great place to purchase timer lights as well as motion lights. Big box home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowes will carry all these as well.
Lets look at a quick example of the electricity differences between LED versus incandescent mini Christmas lights. Lets say you put up 1500 mini lights (bulb count). They go up on December 1st and you take them down on January 1st. You have them on a timer that runs from 5pm to midnight (217 hours of run time). Grand Rapids, Michigan is your home town and your cost per Kilowatt hour through Consumers Energy is $.120632/kWh. The average watts per bulb for LED mini lights is .015 to .14 watts. The average for mini incandescent bulbs is anywhere from .24 to .45 watts per bulb. Lets assume the worst, since these figures probably come from testing in perfect scenarios. For this example, I am going to use .14 watts/bulb for LED and .45 watts/bulb for incandescent. The numbers show you would spend $17.67 more on your December electric bill using incandescent lights and $5.49 more using LED lights. This means it’s realistic to say that incandescent lights can cost you roughly 222% more than LED Christmas lights. That is over 3 times the cost! Think about how much you would save changing all your regular use lights around the house from incandescent bulbs to LED’s (See future BLOG posts on this topic).
This blog is in part designed to give you tips that can help change your habits without changing your lifestyle.
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