It's hard to believe, but the holidays are in full swing and many of you are starting to decorate your homes. Those of you who started around Halloween are probably feeling pretty smart because you got your decorating done while the weather was nice.

I see you there, snacking on your Thanksgiving leftovers, laughing at me shivering in the cold and struggling to undo the knot in my lights. Don't look so smug.

Those of us who haven't started decorating yet may actually be the smart ones this year, because we still have a chance to buy LED light strings. LED (or light emitting diode) light strings can use 90% less energy than regular incandescent light strings. They also last about ten times longer, are cooler than incandescents (reducing fire hazards), and are more durable.

LED light strings tend to be more expensive than incandescent ones, but their long life and low energy costs generally make up the cost fairly quickly. This year, however, you may be able to find some help with the initial cost of purchasing LED light strings.

My coworker found that one major home improvement store offered a rebate for his purchase of LED holiday lights. With the rebate, his lights cost him about the same as an incandescent light string would have. Ask your local retailer if they offer any rebates for LED light strings. You can also use the ENERGY STAR® rebate finder to see if any ENERGY STAR partners in your area are offering rebates.

Also don't forget to check with your utility. Many of them also offer rebates for the purchase of LED holiday lights. My utility offers a $2–$4 rebate for every light string, and a quick search of some other utilities showed similar rebates.

If you started decorating early AND used LED light strings, well, I guess you do deserve that extra piece of pumpkin pie. I'll try to follow your example next year.

Allison Casey is a senior communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its Web sites.