You might want to dig out your old Christmas lights early this year. Home Depot is accepting broken or working strands of Christmas lights in exchange for discounts on strands of energy efficient LED bulbs.Customers who bring in their used holiday lights by Nov. 17 can get up to $5 off a box of LED Christmas lights for every strand of incandescent bulbs they trade in. Though the program is limited to five trade-ins, consumers can find significant cost savings on pricier, more efficient Christmas lighting.

But the LED savings doesn't stop once you leave Home Depot. The Golden Valley Electric Association estimates that consumers can save more than $4 per strand in electricity costs by switching to LEDs over the course of a two-month holiday season. It reports that a 100-count strand of incandescent mini-lights will cost $6.90 to operate in just two months if they are left on for 10 hours a day. In contrast, a 200-count string of LEDs will only add about $2.07 to your electricity bill in the same amount of time.  

LED Christmas lights also last quite a bit longer than traditional incandescent options. The average lifespan of a string of LED lights is 20,000 hours, or 833 consecutive days, so you can enjoy the same holiday glow for years to come. Incandescent strands, however, will last only a fraction of the time — 2,000 hours or 83 full days.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs are a safer option for decorating too because they are much cooler than incandescent bulbs. This reduces the risk of combustion or burnt fingers. Also, because LED bulbs are made with epoxy lenses, instead of glass, they are much more resistant to breakage. And for those Christmas-crazed, holiday display enthusiasts, you can string up to 25 strands of LED mini bulbs end to end without overloading a wall socket.

If you don't have time to make it to Home Depot before the program ends, or simply can't stand the idea of starting your Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, rest assured that you can still find plenty of LED light bulbs on the shelves this year. Retailers have taken notice of the emphasis consumers place on energy savings and are making extra room for LED light bulbs this holiday season.

General Electric, for example, anticipates that two out of five strings of lights it sells will be LED. And, which sells, rents and installs Christmas lights, says that about 30 percent of its new customers will want LED light bulbs.

Walmart has announced that it will dedicate half of its shelving space for energy-efficient lighting options this year. And you might find that LED prices are even more affordable too. Walmart is offering a 50-count string on mini LED lights for just $5, down from $6.30 last year.

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