It is the time of year when homeowners start sprucing up and preparing to entertain family and friends for the holidays. The American Lighting Association (ALA) offers tips for creating a festive, welcoming and energy-efficient home by using light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

According to the ALA, LED lights cost less to operate, and last much longer than incandescent lights. And while most holiday lights are still powered by incandescent light sources, that is changing as the variety of available LED holiday lights continues to grow.

In addition to a longer life, LED holiday lights can make an instant impact for everyone by decreasing utility bills and providing a safer light source. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the U.
Create a festive holiday home with LED lighting
Create a festive holiday home with LED lighting (NewsUSA)
S. uses 2.22 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year to power miniature holiday lights—or enough electricity for 1,300 homes for one year.

Lighting a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days would cost $10 if incandescent C-9 lights were used, instead of 27 cents for LED lights of the same size. The estimated cost of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons? More than $122 for incandescent C-9 lights versus $17.99 for the LED C-9 lights.

In addition to saving money on your electricity bill, the following are a few more reasons to use LED holiday lights instead of traditional incandescent lighting for your tree or home.

•    Long life. LED holiday lights are estimated to last about 40 holiday seasons.

•    Efficiency. LEDs use about 100 times less energy than the standard (C-7) incandescent bulbs and 10 times less energy than mini-lights. To save even more, consider using a programmable timer to limit lighting to certain hours and days.

•    Durability. Thanks to epoxy lenses, LEDs are nearly indestructible and nearly impossible to break.

•    Safety. Unlike incandescent lights, LEDs are cool to the touch, since very little heat radiates from them. They are ideal for lighting steps and pathways for holiday guests.

•    Variety. LEDs now come in all colors and sizes imaginable.

The ALA also recommends looking for the Energy Star label on the packaging on your LED holiday lights. This label means your lights are subjected to a 1,000-hour continuous test and have a three-year warranty. You can find Energy Star LED lights for all areas of your home at your local ALA-member light retailer.

For more information, visit www.americanlightingassoc.com.