Light up Your Holidays

Laura Oakleaf

Holiday decorations make this time of year a treat, but those twinkly lights come at a price. Holiday lighting in the United States alone uses enough electricity to power 200,000 homes for up to a year. If all the decorative lights sold in the US this year were ENERGY STAR® certified, the energy cost savings would be $560 million each year and would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from nearly 660,000 vehicles, according to the EPA. There are great opportunities for energy savings when thinking about the holidays, and the Cook County Department of Environmental Control has compiled a few tips to help save you money and energy during the holiday season.

  • Use LED holiday lights. LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last considerably longer — incandescent lights can be used for 3,000 hours while LED lights could last up to 50,000 hours. You can recycle your broken or old holiday light strings and extension cords at various locations via the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County’s Holiday Light Recycling Program. Click here for specific community drop-off locations.
  • Limit the time the lights are on. Use a timer to turn lights on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night. If you don’t use a timer, unplug the lights before going to bed for the evening. This is even more critical in saving energy this holiday season if not using LEDs.
  • Use reflective decorating. Tinsel or mirrored ornaments reflect the glow from your lights making your tree even shinier.
  • Turn down the thermostat. Lowering the thermostat by 1 degree can decrease energy usage by 2 percent. Turn your thermostat down while there are additional guests in your home and while you are gone visiting others.
  • ENERGY STAR® electronics and appliances make great gifts. If you are buying electronics or appliances as gifts this year, ENERGY STAR® certified products use up to 60 percent less energy than their non-certified counterparts. Click here for more details.

These tips were compiled from Consumer ReportsDepartment of Energy and Resnet. Want to learn more about how you can save energy and money in your home all year round? Visit our website or contact Sarah Edwards at for more information on smart meter and energy efficiency programs.