August 27, 2014

Elyria
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Holiday displays turn on to LEDs


Lights provide a more efficient ‘green’ bulb

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STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
The holiday light display on Ely Square in Elyria, shown here on Friday night, uses traditional and LED bulbs.

What does the city of Elyria want for Christmas? A full set of LED — or light-emitting diode — bulbs might just top its list.

Every year, the city decks its parks with lots of lights — racking up Santa-sized electric bills along the way.

In recent years, energy advocates have touted advantages of energy-saving LED bulbs, but the city hasn’t fully jumped on the bandwagon.

Tom Moyer, superintendent of parks for Elyria, estimates that the city puts up 10,000 strings of Christmas lights between its displays in Ely Square and Finwood. Of those, only a fraction are LED bulbs, according to Moyer.

“We would love to use more LED lights,” he said. “But, because of the cost, we don’t.”

LED bulbs, at the outset, are more expensive — costing between two and three times as much as traditional bulbs. This cost, though, is offset by the potential for savings on electric bills, which — as we all know — can run high during the holidays.

“Between Finwood and Ely Square, the city spends more than $4,500 on electricity each year,” said Katie Levis, who is in charge of bills for the parks’ office.

LED lights can reduce energy expended on holiday displays by up to 80 or 90 percent, according to Ronnie J. Kweller, spokesperson for the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, D.C.

LED lights, which do not have filaments and produce almost no heat, burn longer — more than 50,000 hours  — and brighter than traditional incandescent bulbs, according to Kweller. The energy savings aren’t only good for the city’s — and taxpayers’ — pockets, but for the environment, too.

Spurred by the economic advantages and the desire for a greener Christmas, Moyer said that the city will soon switch to using LED lights exclusively for its holiday displays. “I would guess that we will switch in the next five or 10 years,” he said.

This year, though, Elyria stuck to tradition. Each year, Moyer estimates workers replace about 20 percent of the lights on city displays due to old age or from damage.

Cities aren’t the only ones that can save. Individuals can benefit from LED lights, too. And because LED lights generate no heat, there is almost no risk of them starting fires, and they provide more twinkle around the tinsel.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7128 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.