The nights get longer this time of year, but not necessarily darker. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American suburbs are up to 50 percent brighter than usual, even after midnight. Our holiday lights are so impressive that they can be observed from space.
The Department of Energy estimates that Americans burn 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours annually using holiday lights. That’s enough electricity to power more than 800,000 homes for a year. But with a few simple adjustments, you can make your lights a bit greener.
The biggest thing you can do is to switch to LED lights. If you do, you’ll use up to 70 percent less energy than you would with traditional incandescent bulbs. Plus, you won’t need to replace lights as often. LEDs last about 10 times longer.
“If you want the lights, try to get the most efficient ones,” said Shahzeen Attari, an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington who studies environmental psychology. “And when you’re not using them, turn them off.”