Written by Realty Times Staff

When you’re putting up your holiday decorations, you’re probably not thinking about how much it costs to power your Christmas tree lights, but the costs can add up. Powering a big tree can cost you up to three cents an hour, tech writer Jamie Condliffe estimates, while a modestly-lit yard can run up to 28 cents an hour. If you’re running your lights 10 hours a day for two months, that comes out to $18 and $168, respectively. But using eco-friendly LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent lights can cut your holiday lighting costs by 70 percent per year, the Golden Valley Electric Association estimates. This is just one example of how paying attention to your lighting costs can save you money while helping the environment. Here are some other ways eco-friendly technology can increase your efficiency and cut lighting costs around your home and in your backyard year-round.

Smart Lighting

Lighting costs 14 percent of total residential energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. One of the simplest ways to save energy is to turn off lights when you’re not using them. But how often do you leave a room without bothering to turn off the light because you’re coming back later?

With new smart home technology, the lights can turn themselves off when you’re not using them. You can program lights to dim on a regular schedule or you can install sensors to detect whether the amount of lighting is appropriate to the presence or absence of people in the room. Lighting provider Enlightened found that installing wireless sensors in office buildings saved an average of 60 percent on lighting energy. MakeUseOf writer Joel Lee reviews some of the topsmart residential lighting options available today, which include the Phillips Hue starter pack and the Belkin WeMo Switch.

Better Bulbs

The type of lights you use also has an impact on your energy consumption. Energy-saving incandescent bulbs can save you 25 percent off the cost of traditional incandescent bulbs, according to the Department of Energy. CFL or LED bulbs can cut your costs by 75 percent. GE Link bulbs use 80 percent less power than traditional bulbs.

Computer Screens

Turning off your computer screen when you’re not using it is another way to save lighting energy. The Department of Energy recommends that you should turn off your monitor if you’re not going to be using it for more than 20 minutes, and you should turn off both your PC and your monitor if you’re not going to be using them for two hours.

You can automate these guidelines by using your computer’s sleep mode and power management features. The EPA’s ENERGY STAR estimates you can trim your electricity bills by $30 a year using these features.

Backyard Applications

Smart lighting strategies can also save your outdoor lighting consumption, the DOE says. Using lights that shut off automatically during daytime or only activate at night when motion sensors detect people in the area can reduce the number of hours your lights are on. Outdoor lights are often left on a long time, so using CFL and LED lights will save a lot of energy. Using solar-powered lights can also reduce your lighting consumption.

LED lights can also cut your pool lighting costs by 80 percent, according to Pool LED lights also create deep hues that can fill your pool with color and give you a backyard light show. Be sure to select the correct bulb for your light niche and follow local code for voltages, Merino says.