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Bright idea in Christmas lights

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 22/03) - A new brand of decorative Christmas lights is beginning to sweep the North.

The latest thing is LED -- light-emitting diode -- interior and exterior lights.

NNSL Photo

Stan Boudreau, the co-owner of Wright's Home Hardware in Hay River, is decorated with new LED Christmas lights, which he predicts will soon take over the Christmas light industry. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"They're bright. They're brilliant. I'm really sold on them," says one first-time user, Sheila Hachey of Hay River. "I think they're wonderful."

The new lights use less energy, last longer and are virtually unbreakable, since they are made of plastic.

However, they do cost more than the traditional filament glass bulbs.

Hachey says the energy savings are one of the best features of the new lights.

"I can only see them as a plus for consumers," she says. "The less power used means a better world."

Hachey says she has the LED lights all over her house this Christmas.

She first heard of the lights about a year ago while watching a B.C news report on a huge Christmas tree in Vancouver. The tree was being switched to the new lights to save hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars. "Their power bill was cut dramatically."

Stan Boudreau, co-owner of Wright's Home Hardware in Hay River, says the LED lights use 80 per cent less power than the standard filament bulbs.

Picking up a package of the new lights, he points out that they have a 200,000-hour lifespan and a five-year warranty.

"It is a pretty revolutionary change in the industry," he says, noting that the new lights don't even get hot.

Boudreau gives an example of the savings from the new lights, compared to standard lights. At 12 cents a kilowatt hour, 600 standard seven-watt bulbs would use $31.30 worth of electricity if used for six hours a day for 30 days. The same number of LED lights would use 45 cents worth of energy.

That would be a significant savings for most people, he says. "I think a lot of people are pretty energy conscious."

However, he says the new lights are more costly, up to twice more expensive than standard lights.

The higher price is not preventing people from buying them, however. "They're selling very well, indeed," Boudreau says, noting that up to one-third of the lights sold at his store this year were LED.

"LED is definitely going to take over the Christmas light industry," he predicts.

In fact, Boudreau redecorated the front of his store this year with the new lights.