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Recycle Your Old Christmas Lights and Save Three Ways

By (view all posts by brwood)
at 7:58AM Tuesday November 9, 2010
under Money Saving Tips

Now, if you've been following along, you'll know about saving money on your electric bill by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs and the new LED bulbs just hitting shelves.  Today, I'm going to tell you how swapping your old lights for LED Christmas lights can save you money three ways.

I know it's early yet to be thinking about holiday decorations, but the whole inspiration for this blog today is a program that Home Depot is only running for a limited time. From now until 11/14, you can trade-in old-style Christmas lights and get $3 off a string of new, energy efficient, LED lights.

Update 11/18 - See the bottom of the page for Sears and Kmart light recycling deals.
Tangled lights
Trading in your old lights offers money saving opportunities in that:
  1. Home Depot is giving you $3 right off the bat.

  2. A 100 light string of regular incandescent bulbs (the little ones) burns about 60 watts, the new LED bulbs use 75-90% less energy or 6-15 watts.

  3. Time is money my friends, and by getting rid of older lights there is no trying to figure out why only half of them work. With the longer lasting, more durable LED bulbs you may never have to do that again.


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You can also think about this as giving a Christmas present to the whole planet, too. Home Depot isn't just throwing all these lights in some landfill; they're recycling them.

The copper wire will be stripped out and melted down, most likely ending up in next year's iPhone. The glass bulbs will crushed and melted too, then reformed into the screen for your new iPhone. The green insulation from the wires will be recycled as well and turned into things like Crocs and accessory cases for new iPhones.


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I personally won't see huge savings in my electric bill, but then my house only used three strands of lights last year. If you are the kind of person who turns on the lights at dusk, and turns them off in the morning, puts them up around Thanksgiving and takes them down two months later, you could save roughly $5 per strand per year in electric costs.

Now, if you are the kind of person who has a millions lights on their house, and people driving in from two towns over to see your holiday display, you could easily save $50-100 this year by making the switch.


rockefeller_center_tree-21
When the Rockefeller Center Plaza Christmas tree went "green" in 2007 they had this to say:

"The 84-foot-tall Norway spruce will be covered with 30,000 multicolored light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, strung on five miles of wire. Using the energy-efficient LEDs to replace incandescent bulbs will reduce the display's electricity consumption from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. The daily savings is equal to the amount of electricity consumed by a typical 2,000-square-foot house in a month."

The only potential down side to all this is a small one: The multi-colored lights are brighter and look great, but the white only lights are not so good. Instead of the almost candle like look of clear incandescent bulbs, you get almost a bluish fluorescent look.

So be sure to sample the lights before you commit to a color scheme.


You may think you can get away with saving even more time, and therefore money, by putting off taking the lights down for ten months until it's time to switch them on again. This could save you time--but divorces are expensive, so it may end up costing you money. Plus, being friendly with your neighbors is priceless.

Update 11/18 - This just in Home Depot has finished their recycling program, but now Kmart and Sears are joining in.  Their deal is pretty much the same, but you get $4 back for each set you bring in.  See the details for Sears here, and Kmart here.  Better hurry, program ends 11/20.