In 1989, the world watched an all-too familiar scenario when Chevy Chase spent a day in the snow testing thousands of Christmas lights for the offending dead bulbs. Now 25 years since Chase brought Clark Griswold to life in Christmas Vacation, home holiday displays have arguably gotten only more ostentatious. While technology might not yet rid us of knotted wires or battling an icy roof to affix Santa Claus close to the chimney, it has greatly improved the efficiency and capacity of outdoor lighting with LEDs. Not to mention eliminating the need for a devoted basement shelf to replacement light bulbs with lights that last more than a decade. Here is our holiday roundup of options to deck the halls without doubling electricity costs or sacrificing any opportunity to embarrass your children.
Switch to LEDs
LEDs use about 80 percent less energy than the classic Christmas bulbs. While some homes use a six-week equivalent of heating and power costs to decorate their homes, LEDs will cause a minimal increase at most. Incandescent bulbs are inefficient because 90 percent of the energy they create is heat, which is not only a wasteful use of heat outdoors, but also becomes a fire hazard. LEDs stay cool indefinitely. LED bulbs have a lifespan of more than a decade, eliminating the need to check each bulb before hanging or hop on an icy ladder for mid-season replacement. LEDs are just as popular for menorah and Winter Solstice displays. A number of retailers, such as 1000 Bulbs and Christmas Lights Etc., sell LED holiday lights that replicate the classic soft C7 and C9 Christmas bulbs baby boomers grew up with, so there’s no sacrifice to classic aesthetics for modern efficiency.
Control Power and Color with an App
RGB LED lights can display several shades of Red, Green, and Blue in the same bulb so home displays can be programmed, changed, and applicable for any holiday celebration year-round. Brands like Lumenplay have countless color options, and a smartphone app to control lighting displays and time them to preset sequences or music. The app-powered light sequences are ideal for switching holiday color schemes like between Christmas and Hanukkah throughout the season. GE’s iTwinkle has a similar option with an app to control lights, and they sell pre-lit indoor and outdoor Christmas trees and other displays controlled by the same app. For the typical indoor lamp or outdoor spotlight, Ilumi smartbulbs are also controlled via a Bluetooth-enabled app, so almost any indoor lamp can go from festive back to a typical off-white glow for the rest of the year with the push of a button. For those who want to put up some of the traditional holiday lighting, products like the Modlet monitor electricity use and have an app to control outlets to cut down on wasted electricity and remotely power lights.
Intermix Displays with Battery, Solar, and USB-Powered
Like regular LED strings, battery-powered lights can be strung together into a full display (though each string generally requires its own power supply), are made for indoor and outdoor use, and have hundreds of hours of battery life. Retailers like Novelty Lights sell strings of battery-powered as well as solar powered lights with each string ending a small panel. For indoor lighting, Amazon has a slew of USB-powered holiday decorations like fiber optic Christmas trees and LED snowmen perfect for desks, kids’ rooms, or any spare iPhone charger.
Add Other Green Indoor Holiday Décor
For the most efficient—and a bit more traditional—decorations, other sustainable options come without lights but still plenty of holiday cheer. Bambeco has a holiday section of decorations like wreaths and candles from sustainably-sourced and recycled materials. The world of 3D printing has permeated holiday festivities with scientists at GE making 3D printed ornaments for customized, at-home designing.
Now, put it altogether and recreate the Griswold Family Christmas for the technologically tricked-out, highly efficient holiday home in 2014…
However you decide to deck the halls, have a happy and healthy holiday season from all of us here at EcoBuilding Pulse!