Living Sustainably: Heat hints and free LED lights make holidays greener

By Deena Roberson, Holland Board of Public Works

Holland BPW customers can trade for free LED Christmas lights Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

With the holiday season upon us, the cool weather and impending snowfall will drive up our energy bills. The largest energy expense in the winter comes from the furnace and the energy needed to heat your home. Check out the tips below to see how you can combat the winter energy blues!
 Instead of cranking up that thermostat, try opening the curtains on any south-facing windows during the day to let the sunshine and warmth in.
 Be sure to close the curtains again at night to help keep the warmth in, and add weather stripping around any drafty doors, too.

 If you feel a little chilly, grab a sweater, some cozy slippers, and a blanket to stay warm.
 Invest in a programmable thermostat that allows you to automatically adjust your home’s temperature while you are gone to avoid heating an empty home. Program the thermostat to a lower temperature while you sleep, too, to keep energy use down. By adjusting the thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter, you can save big on your heating costs.
 To make sure your furnace is working as efficiently as possible, check the filter and replace it if need be. A dirty filter makes your furnace work harder to push air through the system, which equals more energy used.
Another large holiday energy expense comes from all those beautiful, decorative lights.

Strands of old Christmas lights that use five times the energy of new LED lights will be recycled.

Traditional incandescent string lights lose much of their energy (about 90 percent) through heat, not light, making them very inefficient.
LED (light-emitting diode) string lights are not only 80 percent more efficient, but they are safer and sturdier. Because most of the energy in the bulb goes to making light, not heat, the bulbs stay cool to the touch. LED string lights are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, which make them much more resistant to breakage.
And while incandescent string lights are less expensive to start, LED lights will last 40 seasons or more, making them a wise investment.

If you are a Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) customer, you can ditch your old, inefficient holiday lights for a new strand of 105 warm-white LEDs! From 1 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 and from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1, HBPW customers can stop by the HBPW Service Center at 625 Hastings Ave. to exchange and upgrade old, incandescent holiday lights.
All old strands will be properly recycled, so it’s a win-win. Limit three LED string lights per customer, but each person can recycle as many old strings as they’d like.

To learn more about HBPW events, rebates and programs, and to see more energy saving tips, visit May your holiday season be green and bright!

 Deena Roberson is the conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works. She manages residential energy efficiency and water conservation programs.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.