This week brings a day that many people look forward to all year—and I'm not talking about Thanksgiving, or Black Friday.
I'm talking about that magical day when it's finally okay to drag the dusty boxes from the basement or attic, to lovingly sort and display your decorations, to untangle your light strings and set up the stepladder, all in anticipation of one glorious moment: Dad's annual trip to the emergency room.
I kid (and sincerely hope that's not your yearly ritual), but in addition to safety when hanging your lights this year, I hope you'll think about something else: efficiency.
Before you start stringing those lights, take a moment to consider what they're costing you. They may have been fairly inexpensive to purchase, but operating them can cost more than you think—especially if you have a lot of them, and especially if you are using the larger "C-7" bulbs.
Switching to LED light strings may cost a bit more up front, but it can save you money in the long run. Not only do LED light strings cost significantly less to operate, they can also last up to 40 holiday seasons. Check out our LED Lighting Products  page to see a cost estimate for running lights on one tree over the holiday season.
Also, be sure to check for rebates before you buy. My utility actually offers a rebate for holiday light strings, and you might also find rebates from the stores. The ENERGY STAR® rebate finder  can help you find out if any ENERGY STAR partners in your area are offering rebates.
Finally, another note on safety: LED light strings are also cooler than incandescent bulbs, meaning they lessen the risk of fire and personal injury. And if you're one of those families planning for that annual holiday emergency room trip, that alone should be an incentive to switch to LED light strings.
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.