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5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

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Rethink Lights and Decorations

Christmas lights -- both indoors and out -- are an obvious and huge drain on energy resources. If it just isn't the holiday for you without lights on the house, in the yard, and on the tree, at least use bulbs with low wattage. The rule of thumb is this: the smaller the bulb, the lower the wattage. Not only do low-watt bulbs consume less energy; they also give off less heat, making them safer. Look for outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel; their separate circuitry means that if that if one bulb burns out, the rest will keep shining, and you only have to replace one bulb. Strands with series wiring go entirely dark if one bulb fails, making it almost impossible to find which bulb is bad.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are an efficient choice for your holiday lights. LEDs incorporate the same computer-chip technology used to light calculators and watches, and they are 90 percent more efficient than traditional Christmas lights. They also release very little heat, and they last about 200,000 hours. One U.S. Department of Energy study showed that two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month, if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings -- enough energy to power 200,000 homes for a year!

You and the kids can make your own Christmas tree ornaments out of things you already have around the house, or from materials found in nature -- such as pinecones, twigs, stones, etc. You can have fun making ornaments from macaroni, flour and salt clay, and no-bake dough. Don't forget the traditional popcorn and cranberry garland. Those holiday cards can also be put to use as decoration -- try an easy-to-make hanging card holder.

Next: Keep Your Christmas Tree Green


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