Though some of the holiday ornaments and decorations you unpack every year may be irreplaceable, those holiday lights you string year after year are likely very inefficient. So it might be best to keep those old holiday lights in the box.

By remembering a few tried and true tips – along with considering some new lighting options – you’ll be able to safely enjoy your holiday display this year without a big jump in your December energy bill.

Many years ago, miniature holiday lights replaced larger night-light-type bulbs in most decorations. Commonly sold in 50- or 100-light strings, miniature lights use about half-a-watt per bulb. They also stay cooler than older styles, so they’re safer and they last longer too.

For even greater savings, more and more decorating options are using super-efficient Light Emitting Diodes instead of bulbs. LED holiday lights are available in different sizes depending on the amount of brightness you want and come in a variety of colors. LEDs are also easier to install. Typically you can connect up to 24 strings of LEDs end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.

Though LEDs are more expensive to buy, prices are coming down. LEDs use 90 percent less energy than traditional holiday lights, are more durable and can last years longer.

Operating ten strings of mini-LED lights compared to ten strings of standard mini-lights can save nearly $12 in energy costs in one month.

Regardless of your choice of holiday lights, keeping them off when you’re away from home or going to bed will keep the bills down. Depending on your personal preference, using timers to turn lights on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night, can save you a bundle.

For safety, be sure electrical circuits and extension cords are properly rated and not overloaded. Before reusing last year’s lighted decorations, it’s a good idea to inspect them for damage to wires or sockets. Remember to unplug them before replacing fuses or bulbs.

When decorating outdoors, use only outdoor-approved displays, light sets and extension cords. And be sure to plug them into outlets protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.

Through Mass Save, NSTAR customers are eligible for special in-store pricing on qualified CFLs and LEDs at participating retailers through December 31, 2014. Visit to find out more.

Bill Stack is NSTAR's energy efficiency spokesman. He can be reached by emailing If you're a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with Bill, please call Mike Durand (508-441-5831) or Rhiannon D'Angelo (617-424-2116).