Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Light Up the Neighbourhood with Free LEDs!

November is here, and that means Toronto Hydro and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas are collaborating to bring you 22 events around town over the next few weeks where you can trade incandescent lights for LEDs! It's the yearly Festive Light Exchange, and it's coming to a neighbourhood near you.

The cat isn't part of the deal, unfortunately.

The math is really easy: bring two sets of old incandescent lights and you'll get one free string of LEDs! In other words, get rid of those shabby-looking, energy-guzzling lights with chipped paint and muted colours that leave you with broken glass every time one of the bulbs break. Instead, bring home a string of lights that use 90% less electricity, produce less heat (so you're not paying to melt snow on your trees, and you don't run the risk of fire indoors), and shine brighter than the traditional ones. Personally, I find some of the LED colours, especially that blueish white hue, to be much more festive than alternating reddish-orange and palm tree green.

But wait, it gets better: the average lifespan of LED lights is in the 20 to 30 year range, and they won't die on you prematurely due to breakage because there are no fragile filaments or glass bulbs. There are so many advantages to this technology that you can rest assured this is no passing fad!

Looking for an event close to home? Most take place outdoors on weekend afternoons in parks/parkettes and at community centres and schools. Click here for the full schedule.

Please keep in mind that while seasonal lights are pretty and LEDs are energy-efficient, conservation and moderation are still encouraged. Try placing lights only outdoors and using other types of decorations for your living room. Also, buy a timer and set your outdoor lights to automatically turn off at midnight. If you've lit up your front porch or back patio, make sure the standard lighting in those areas is turned off.

Please don't do this.

Happy lighting!


  1. Hi Andrea. Great post and love your blog. I have one question though. In colder climates like Canada, does it really matter if your indoor lights (Christmas or other) are producing heat? Wouldn't heat just go to heating your home and make your heaters work less hard? Also it would seem to be in that case, indoor lights would be prefered over outdoor. What do you think?

  2. Good questions, and thanks for following.

    Unfortunately, it DOES matter that indoor lights produce heat - that's precisely what makes them energy wasters. Given the choice of heating your home through a heater/heating system vs. light bulbs that emit heat as a waste product, the former is more efficient than the latter.

    I haven't done the calculations, but I'm fairly certain that the electricity you save from your heater shutting off (because of the excess heat produced by incandescent bulbs) is far smaller than the electricity you use to power your lights. It's a net loss of electricity.

    CFL bulbs for standard lights and LED bulbs for seasonal lights, on the other hand, are so energy-efficient that they emit virtually no heat. That way, you can use your lights for lighting and your heater for heating, save electricity and money, make your home look festive, and all is well in the world.