It’s about time to start digging out those boxes of Christmas lights out from the basement or attic and begin the process of untangling years worth of knots. If your strands are starting to get stiff or, conversely, the braids are starting to unravel, it’s time to think about new lights. Odds are that most of your older lights are electricity-guzzling incandescents, so it’s time to make the switch to LEDs.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are used in household items such as appliances, clocks, and other electronics. Recent improvements in technology have enabled them to shine far brighter than the old school incandescents, and will last several times longer. They also use 90% LESS electricity than traditional lights and do not burn hot, which is an important safety consideration. And speaking of safety, the old rule of never stringing together more than three strands of lights does not apply to LEDS…string ten, twenty, thirty strands together without worry and without having to use scores of bulky and awkward extension cords. Think of how much easier that makes your job!
If you thought about switching from the incandescents a few years ago, but thought that they were too blindly bright and the white bulbs were almost blue, you were right. But huge advances in lighting technology over the past five years have softened the lights and made the hues much more pure. LEDs even look more sophisticated now, thanks to faceted designs that throw off just a bit more twinkle when used outdoors.
If you dread lighting your outdoor areas, we get it. It can be tricky. But there are some tricks of the trade that the experts use to make lighting quick and easy. For example, roll your lights into a ball, like yarn, before you start lighting your tree or front porch. Wind your way down the tree or between slats on your front railing, just letting out as much slack as you need. This keeps the lights tangle-free and easy to handle. Using accessories such as lighting clips for outdoor lights makes setup and takedown a snap. Automatic timers, including light-sensing timers, will save you money on your electric bill while taking care of the task of plugging and unplugging lights every day.
PRO TIP: When you’re done lighting, take pictures or narrate a video with your cell phone, explaining to your future-self how you did things. Make little maps with circles and arrows. Use hang-tags on each strand of lights with little notes explaining exactly where it goes. And box everything up according to lighting area. That makes lighting a painless process from year to year!