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Create Economical, Bright, Safe Holiday Displays with LEDs

Posted by Christina B. Farnsworth

Dec 9, 2014 10:49:00 AM

Take a bright idea from municipalities when you decorate for Christmas.

Ocean City LED Christmas lights

Ocean City, Maryland puts up an annual Winterfest of Lights display they say uses 90 percent less electricity and is a brighter display because they switched from regular incandescent to LED Christmas lights. LED lights are also safer because they do not get as hot as incandescents -- and they last longer, too. A win, win, win, win.

Who can argue about the benefits of more light for less money, especially when the festive annual event claims to use more than a million Christmas lights in its 58 acres of sculptural displays?

December 1, I had the opportunity to ride the Winterfest Express. What a sight.

Here is what Ocean City has to say about its display:

The amazing lights at Northside Park are the main attraction, but a ride aboard the Winterfest Express or a stroll down the Boardwalk will allow you to see many unique holiday themed displays that have won national awards in the past. Winterfest 2014 takes place November 21- January 1. Tickets to the Northside Park display are $5 per person and kids 11 & under are free. The event is open Monday-Thursday from 5:30-9:30pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:30-10:30pm.

Ocean City isn’t the only place saving money operating holiday displays. The Great Smoky Mountain Winterfest in Tennessee says it spent $32,000 operating its light displays.

Energy Efficiency Pros used holiday lighting as the jumping off point to describe how communities are saving money by going with LED lighting for more than the holidays:

"The cost of running traditional, commercial lights that are designed to brighten up fields and outdoor venues can be substantial.

WinterFest In The Smokies The cities and towns throughout the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee come together to host the annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest. They welcome people from throughout the region to come and view spectacular displays of Christmas cheer and holiday fun. The price tag for the communities as a whole, however, ran up more than $32,000 to run just the holiday lights and extra illumination for the different events. The vast expanse and wide territory that the related activities cover mean that the bill adds up quickly as simultaneous events take place throughout the interconnected festival. Their solution to the ongoing problem is an excellent example for Scottsdale to follow.

Changing Out Old Christmas Lights For Beautiful New Twinklers Sevier County in Tennessee opted to switch from old lighting fixtures to new, energy efficient LED alternatives for everything from the big fixtures that light outdoor locations to the smaller options like Christmas decorations and twinkling lights. The adjustment in total cost the county $1.2 million, but the change will pay off all year long. While the Christmas lights may be stored for much of the year, the rest of the lighting elements will remain and offer a return on investment during other seasons.

The Winterfest savings are expected to be huge, especially if you consider that the City of Gatlinburg, Tennessee has already reported more than a 75 percent drop in lighting bills since the new fixtures were installed. City officials indicated that previous lighting bills for the city at this time would top more than $68,000. Now, they’re less than $10,000. That’s a huge difference for taxpayers, and it has provided more funds for the towns to invest in the events. As a result, attendance is higher as people come out in larger groups to enjoy what Winterfest has to offer from all areas of the Smoky Mountains.

Safer For The Environment And People One of the most valuable advantages of the switch to LED lights, beyond the inherent cost savings, is the safety factor that has increased substantially. LED bulbs do not get as hot as traditional, incandescent alternatives, and that means that officials do not have to worry about people getting burned on the bulbs regardless of where they are placed. Additionally, the bulbs are less likely to shatter in the way that older options did, and that means that they are easier to store. Maintenance teams will not run in to issues with burst bulbs and broken glass that can be dangerous when pulling items out of storage. Instead, they can put the long-lasting bulbs up for the last two months of the year and then store them safely. The options are also so long lasting that there’s a chance that when the groundskeeper’s grandchildren are old enough to maintain the grounds for Winterfest, the same holiday bulbs will be still in operation."

And here is another visitor's video from last year aboard the Winterfest Express.


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