Recycling of Christmas lights encouraged

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Joleen Jansen, program director for the Clayton County Energy District, places a recycling box at the Clayton County Register, one of several drop-off spots for recycling strings of Christmas lights.

The Clayton County Clean Energy District is encouraging residents to recycle their old, broken, or unwanted holiday lights and switch to a higher efficiency LED brand. LED (light emitting diode) lights look and act just like incandescent bulbs but use 90 percent less energy. Energy efficiency is one of the main draws for LED bulbs, as well as their substantially longer lifespan. LED Christmas light manufacturers boast 75,000 hour lifespans. In addition, LED lights are more durable. They don’t have a filament so they don’t burn out. Neither fo they require fuses. 

Diverting Christmas lights from the landfill is important; without this recycling program lights would be in landfills for thousands of years. The recycling process is done by separating the insulating plastic surrounding the valuable copper, brass, and glass. The byproducts are then used to make other objects like new wire, pipes, or other consumer products with the materials. 

Clayton County drop-off locations for recycling old string lights include:
Central Community School, Elkader; Clayton County Register, Elkader; Citizen’s Bank, Strawberry Point; DX Station (across from Volga Opera House; Kuempel’s True Value; Guttenberg Community Savings Bank; the Guttenberg
Municipal Building; Guttenberg
Community Savings; Garnavillo
Fisk Farm and Home, Monona

LED bulbs do not use a filament to produce light, it is a light emitting diode. This diode is more efficient and produces little to no heat even after being in use for hours. The filament in the incandescent bulb will eventually degrade to the point of breaking, when the bulb is no longer viable. While incandescent bulbs may have hundreds of hours of expected life, the LED equivalents estimate a life span of tens of thousands of hours. In addition, because the do not produce heat the LED lights they are less of a risk for causing a fire. 

LED lights will also allow you to string more lights together. Typically one string of 70 LED bulbs will use 4.8 watts of energy. While one string of 100 incandescent bulbs will use 40.8 watts of energy. You can string up to 5 strands of 100 incandescent bulbs safely in one outlet, giving you 500 bulbs in total while using 204 watts. With LED you can safely string up to 43 strands of 70 bulb led lights in one outlet, giving you a total of 3,010 bulbs while using 206.4 watts. 

The Clayton County Energy District encourages the recycling of old lights and upgrading to new more efficient lights. By switching to LED bulbs this holiday season you could see a return on investment in less than a year.


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