Only a week after Thanksgiving, holiday lights and decor already cover lawns, store fronts, and everything in between. Succeeding the age-old practice of mounting lit candles on evergreen trees, Thomas Edison first put electric incandescent lights on a tree outside his laboratory prior to Christmas 1880. Continuing the track of technological evolution, a new form of holiday light has become prevalent: the light-emitting diode, or LED.
The increased use of lights as holiday decor in December causes a corresponding uptick in municipal energy use. To counteract the impact caused by holiday decorations, the Town plans decorate with LEDs for the second year in a row. Last year the Town decorated the Town Hall lawn, 30 trees, and 50 lampposts with LEDs, resulting in a 75% decrease in energy use with a cost savings of roughly $7,000.
The Town is joined by other groups in promoting the benefits of switching to LEDs for the holiday season; Sustainable Wellesley and the Wellesley High School Green Team are both encouraging the switch as well. Among other efforts, this week the WHS Green Team put up multiple displays on LEDs throughout the high school, visually demonstrating the environmental benefits of sticking to the modern bulb.
LEDs use between 65% and 90% less energy per bulb than incandescents over the same period of time, as reported on by Sustainable Wellesley. According to the United States Department of Energy, LEDs also last up to 25 times longer than other bulbs. Their low energy use also allows them to run cooler, posing less of a fire risk as they remain mounted on wreaths and trees during the holiday season.
In addition to using more energy-efficient bulbs, the Town is also keeping its holiday spirit sustainable by turning off all holiday lights (except lampposts) by 11pm. Residents can also join in the movement by switching their own holiday lights to LEDs or setting a timer to turn off their holiday lights at a reasonable hour. For residents hoping to keep their energy supply sustainable as well, More Power to Choose is still offering voluntary renewable energy purchasable at only a couple dollars extra per month.
(Matthew Hornung and Olivia Gieger)