LED lights the next big thing in holiday lighting

November 22, 2014 Updated: November 24, 2014 at 8:07 am
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Thursday might say Thanksgiving on the calendar, but it's also unofficially known as "the national it's OK to turn your lights on day," said Brian Zakavec, owner of High Altitude Holiday Lighting.

That gives you five days to locate the boxes of lights, unsnarl them, check that they work and string them along the rooftop and trees. It also might mean the first time you've been on a ladder since last year's lighting extravaganza. If that sounds like a lot of work, consider Zakavec's holiday can-do attitude.

"A lot of people enjoy them," he said. "I encourage people to put them up. It's good even if you're not very religious to put them up. It doesn't take as much time as most people think to either do it yourself or have it done by us."

First things first - decide between incandescent lights (the brightly colored, skinny egg-shaped lights that have been around for decades) and LED lights. Incandescent lights are cheaper but will net you a higher electric bill. LED lights are more expensive but barely will register in your monthly statement, Zakavec said.

"If you use the C9 incandescents, each bulb is seven watts," he said. "It's like running your microwave nonstop for as long as you have them on each night. They're energy hogs."

Colorado Springs Utilities also recommends LED lights and will offer an incentive for those who use them. Customers can bring in up to three strings of incandescent lights and receive up to three coupons for 50 percent off LED lights at ACE Hardware stores.

"They are more energy efficient," Utilities spokesperson Amy Trinidad said. "They last 10 times longer. They're safer - they don't heat up like incandescents do. And they're more durable and less likely to break."

Technology is making the task of decorating a house much safer and quicker. Smartphone apps such as Lumenplay and iTwinkle allow users to control lights from up to 150 feet away. New RBG lights are single light bulbs that hold three LEDs in red, green and blue, which create many color combinations. You even can program music to go along with the lights, matching each note to a specific color.

"Some retail box stores have that (RGB lights) out now," said Judd Bryarly, operations manager for Timberline Landscaping. "We're just testing the waters here."

As far as taking lights down, or at least shutting them off, the gold standard for those observing religious traditions is Three Kings Day, Zakavec said. That's Jan. 6, though many say goodbye to holiday lights right after New Year's Day.

"Have fun with it. You don't always have to do what the Joneses are doing across the street," Bryarly said. "Do something fun and creative. Mixing it up doesn't hurt anything."

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The Associated Press contributed 
to this story.

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