New technologies make Christmas decorating affordable

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The Christmas season is upon us, the signs are all around: St. Nick is making appearances in parades and department stores, Christmas carols have been playing since the day after Halloween and houses near and far are ablaze with lights. It is this time of year that some of the most festive homes are using their power meter as a fan. There is, however, a lighting technology available that uses a fraction of the power compared to standard Christmas lights.

LED lighting is nothing new in general, but it is relatively new in the decorating department. LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes are lights that run on about 10 per cent of the power compared to standard incandescent lights. Now that the technology has been out for a couple of years, the price seems to have come down.

Here are some of the benefits to using LED lights:

Cost – The low electricity consumption and durability benefits far outweigh the higher initial cost of a string of LED lights. Assuming an average of 200 hours per season, a 25-light string of incandescent lights will cost $5.25. A string of LED lights will cost 53 cents for electricity.

Durability – LED Christmas lights have been shown to last up to 50,000 hours. Compare this to about 7,500 hours for an incandescent set. This means no changing bulbs at -30 C, and no unsightly burned out bulbs in your meticulously arranged colour pattern!

Safety – Did you know that 14 people are killed in Christmas tree fires? You can be sure it’s not the candy canes starting these fires; they’re most often linked to faulty lighting. LED lights generate little to no heat and in turn, drastically reduce fire risk. In addition, given their low-wattage, plugging your entire holiday light show into one outlet (yes you, we know you do it) becomes far less dangerous.

Electricity demands are always increasing and winter places higher demands than ever. It’s no secret that reducing your electricity consumption has a ton of benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the burden on your pocketbook. So go ahead, spell out your Christmas joy in lights and do it guilt free with LED.

Here are some other suggestions for cutting your power bill during the Christmas season:

• Consider turning Christmas lights off at bedtime instead of leaving them on all night.

• No Peeking. A lot of heat is wasted by checking the oven while cooking. Avoid this by purchasing a meat thermometer that can be read outside the oven. This will ensure minimal power waste and a tender, juicy turkey too!

• Use a timer to manage your Christmas lights, which prevents them from being accidentally left on.

• Many electronic devices remain on “standby” after they are turned off. Chargers for cellphones, MP3 players, etc. also continue to consume electricity while plugged in. Consider unplugging or using switched plugs (power bars, etc.) for these items when not in use.

• If electronics or appliances are on someone’s wish list, look for those with the Energy Star logo. These products will save energy and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The North West Alliance Conservation Initiative (NWACI) is a partnership between seven municipalities including, the county of Athabasca, M.D. of Lesser Slave River, Parkland County, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, County of Thorhild and Westlock County. This partnership also receives funding from the Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (AESA) program. The focus of the partnership is to promote and encourage the implementation of practices and techniques that will reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. For more information or a no-charge on-farm consultation, please contact Mike at 780-939-0602 or Jennifer at 780-939-0618 or www.nwaci.com.

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St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.