Even if you're a certified Griswold when it comes to home holiday decorations, you don't have to rack up an energy bill the size of Texas to win the most festive house on the block award. These days, there are plenty of energy-efficient decorative lighting options that can really cut down your consumption. Before you start inspecting your old lighting strands for the bulb that's throwing a wrench in the works, take a minute to consider your upgrade options available at the local hardware store.

Holiday lighting standards

While there are many sizes of decorative lighting, most people wind up choosing between three standards: C7, C9 and "mini-lights."

C7 lights, also called strawberry lights for their texture and shape, have been around since 1934 and really began to take off in the 1950s. The bulbs are about the size of your thumb and usually come in a multi-colored strand.

C9 lights are basically just a larger version of C7s. They're really only for outdoor use. That's especially true if you're still using incandescent C9 bulbs. Their size means they produce a lot of heat when lit and can therefore pose a fire risk.

Mini lights are your standard lighting strands that many of us are most familiar with. Many are on green strands and they've been popular since the 1970s. Mini lights come in all sorts of colors and are usually the cheapest holiday lighting option.

Each of these types of lights continues to be popular today, and you can pick up replacement bulbs or new strands at most any hardware store. The only problem with these traditional incandescent lighting options is the amount of energy they consume. You've probably already switched to CFL light bulbs in most areas of your home, but since we only break out our holiday lighting once a year, it's less likely that you've upgraded to a new more efficient solution.

Choosing a more efficient alternative

Today's holiday lighting standard is the light emitting diode, or LED. Longer lasting than traditional incandescent lights, LEDs are also 85% more energy efficient. The best part about LEDs is that they are available as an alternative to incandescent bulbs in all traditional holiday lighting sizes. That means your holiday decorations can maintain the same look and use much less energy.

As with most new technologies, LED holiday lights do carry a higher price tag than more traditional options, but the extra money you spend upfront will easily come back to you in the form of energy savings.

If you have to go to the hardware store to get replacement parts for your holiday lights this year, consider making an investment in your future festivities by upgrading to LED strands. Just think of all the extra presents you can buy when you cut your typical holiday lighting bill of $30 a month to just $4.50!

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