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Holiday light savings debate: LED or incandescent?

Over the last few years, we have seen LED (light-emitting diode) lights dominate the shelves during Christmas time.

You can still find traditional incandescent light strings at a considerably cheaper price. So when faced with the two, how do you choose? Do LEDs really save you money? Here are a few pros and cons to help you decide.

Pros of LEDs:

• LED lights are more energy efficient. They cost less to operate over longer periods of time and are a lesser burden on non-renewable energy sources.

• According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it costs less than $1 to light up a six-foot Christmas tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with mini LED lights. That compares to approximately $2.74 with incandescent mini lights. LED C-9 lights are even cheaper, costing less than 30 cents to light the same size tree. Lighting up the tree with incandescent C-9 lights cost about $10.

• LED lights emit a “lighter,” “cooler” tone, reducing the risk they can burn out or burn your digits.

• LEDs are sturdier, so they’re less likely to break. They also last longer.

• According to the government website, you can connect up to 25 strings of LEDs without overloading a wall socket, and are thus easier to install.

Cons of LEDs:

• LEDs are pricey when you first buy them. As an example, a set of 50 clear mini incandescent lights are listed online for about $7 at Walmart. The LED equivalents start at about $16.

• If you’ve gathered an arsenal of Christmas decorations over the years, it might cost you more to switch them all to LEDs, as the lighting tones are different.

• LEDs have lighter, cooler tones, not the warm, glowing, tones many people prefer during Christmastime.

As with many things, the key is to take advantage of special deals if you are trying to buy Christmas LED lights. Home Depot, for example, usually has a trade in period in the month of November where they let you recycle your old incandescent light strings, whether they still work or not, and in return you can get up to $5 off the cost of LED lights.

Another tip is to buy LED decorations after the holiday season, when they are cheaper. After all, you can use them for the following year.

Look out for coupons for LED lights. Target, for example, usually offers a coupon you can print from their website that you can use when buying lights at its stores.