10 Festive LED Christmas Lights To Save You Energy And Money

Brighten up your holiday season with these energy-saving twinkle lights.

December 6, 2017
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Christmas lights
Martin Barraud/Getty

Americans’ holiday lights use a shocking amount of electricity. In fact, our seemingly small decorations end up using more electricity than entire countries – like El Salvador or Ethiopia – use in a full year.

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

But thanks to LED lights, you don’t have to sit in the dark or skip any of the festivities out of guilt for sucking up electricity. Here’s everything you need to know about switching out your twinkle lights and the best options to shop for. (And get inspired to switch out your old tacky decor while you’re at it with these 12 plastic-free, zero-waste holiday decor ideas we love.)

WHY BUY LED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

LED lights use at least 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. They also last 25 times longer, are more resistant to breaking, and are significantly safer. And thanks to cooler bulbs, LEDs reduce the risk of fire and won’t burn little fingers.

They might be more expensive upfront, but Energy Star expects its certified lights to still be wrapped around your Christmas tree 40 years from now. Plus, in addition to lasting longer, LED lights are cheaper to power. It costs $10 to light a 6-foot tree with conventional incandescent lights for 12 hours a day for 40 days and only $0.27 for the same amount of time with LED strands.

Related: 10 Best Green Holiday Cards To Send This Year

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LED LIGHTS

Save even more energy by always using a timer for your lights, or at least only turn them on at night when you are home and awake. It’s true you don’t have to worry about the LED bulbs getting too hot, but why use the electricity when no one is there to see them?

Consider using fewer strands and avoid other energy-intensive decorations like inflatables—sometimes less is more! Before you put everything up, you can calculate how much energy your lights will use and how much you’ll end up paying with this energy calculator.

Green up your decor by making your own tree ornaments out of oranges and grapefruits:

It’s also a good idea to connect your lights to a power strip to prevent the strands from using energy even when they are turned off. Simply switch off the entire strip when not in use to prevent paying for wasted electricity.

Finally, always recycle your old incandescent or broken holiday lights when they no longer work and can’t be repaired. Check with your local recycling center to see if they take holiday lights or mail them to a recycling program like this one. (Check out our guide on how to recycle almost anything, including Christmas lights.)

Ready to make the switch? Here are our top picks for timeless, low-energy twinkle lights that you’ll look forward to season after season.

ecosmart LED lights
Photograph courtesy of Home Depot
1
Ecosmart LED M5 String Outdoor Lights

Replace your classic outdoor lights with this 150-light LED strand. Unlike LEDs of years past, the mini bulbs give off a warm white light that better mimics the softer glow from incandescent bulbs. The weather-resistant strand covers a whopping 49 feet and comes on a handry roller so you can easily put them up and take them down without tangles.

Buy it: $36, homedepot.com

Lumens LED lights
Photograph courtesy of Home Depot
2
Lumenplay App-Enabled LED Indoor/Outdoor C9 Lights

Say hello to the 21st Century with these controllable lights. This light “starter kit” comes with one string of lights and a controller that talks to your smartphone via a free app, allowing you to create a personalized light show by changing the colors, adding motion, and adjusting the brightness. You can even set your lights to your favorite Christmas carol. And don't worry, the built-in timer will help make sure you show doesn’t run over budget. Add on more strings if need be!

Buy it: $50, homedepot.com

Related: How To Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh And Green

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We hope you enjoy the products we're recommending as much as we do! Just so you know, Organic Life may get a share of sales from the links on this page.
 
environmental lights LED
Photograph courtesy of Environmental Lights
3
Glow Balls Indoor/Outdoor Christmas Light String

These Energy Star-Certified, lead-free lights have a soft glow for curling up by the fire. Despite the big bulbs, the entire strand only uses 2.4 watts – that’s 98 percent less than its incandescent counterpart. Put it on a dimmer for the ultimate mood lighting.

Buy it: $12, environmentallights.com

copper wire lights
Photograph courtesy of Amazon
4
Warm White LED Copper Wire Indoor/Outdoor Lights

These strands are decoration enough on their own. The beautiful, insulated copper wire molds easily so you can wrap around banisters, draw shapes, or even spell out small words. A dimmer lets you choose from 10 levels of brightness and adjust the lights to flash, strobe, or hold steady.

Buy it: From $14, amazon.com

Related: Here’s Why Real Christmas Trees Are Better For The Environment

santa LED lights
Photograph courtesy of Home Depot
5
Indoor LED Santa String Lights

Sometimes a regular bulb just doesn’t cut it. These cute lights are perfect for a kids room or to drape like a garland since battery power means you aren’t tied down by an outlet. The copper wire lights have 20 LEDs that light up acrylic Santas, and the built in 6 hour timer means you won’t accidentally drain your rechargeable batteries.

Buy it: from $22 on homedepot.com

 
 
solar lights
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
6
Solar Outdoor Fairy Lights

Skip the grid altogether! Now you can light up the night without worrying about the energy. These lights come with a built-in solar charger, a waterproof timer, and a USB charger for stormy days—plus, get them in a variety of colors. 

Buy It: $11, amazon.com

Related: 20 Delightful Old-Fashioned Christmas Ornaments You Can Buy On Etsy

philips christmas lights
Photograph courtesy of Target
7
Philips LED Garland Dewdrop Indoor/Outdoor Fairy String Lights

Dress up the mantle with little lights fit for a fairytale. The miniature, weather resistant lights wrap easily around garlands, wreaths, and greenery for whimsical merriment.

Buy it: $18, target.com

GE LED christmas lights
Photograph courtesy of Home Depot
8
GE Energy Smart LED Multi-Color Indoor/Outdoor Mini Light Set

Embrace the playfulness of colored lights. The long-lasting lights are designed to keep shining bright even if a bulb or two burn out, so you don’t have to worry about a completely dead strand next year. Since the strands only pull 3.3 watts, you can safely stack up to a whopping 25 strands together for an out of this world display.

Buy it: $8, homedepot.com

Related: 4 Holiday Plants To Get This Year If You’re Sick Of Poinsettias

 
 
mini star lights
Photograph courtesy of Pottery Barn
9
Pottery Barn Mini Star String Lights

These little stars are the perfect size to make a mini tree or vase twinkle. Even better, they look great for New Year’s, and you can bring them out again for the 4th of July—or simply let them spread joy all year round.

Buy it: from $20, potterybarn.com

GE net LED lights
Photograph courtesy of Lowes
10
GE StayBright Sparkling White LED Mini Christmas Net Lights

Take the struggle and frustration out of decorating your yard with this Energy Star-Certified net. The netted strands gently drape over shrubs, grass, trees, or walls for 20 square feet of sparkling light. Be the brightest on the block by connecting up to 25 strands in minutes.

Buy it: $15, lowes.com

Related: 12 Meaningful DIY Holiday Gifts That Won’t Break The Bank