After thinking about it for the last couple of Christmases, this year we finally spent the money to get outdoor LED lights and an LED pre-lit Christmas tree. While LED lights can cost more upfront than traditional incandescent bulbs, this expense is easily made up for by the cost savings throughout their life.
Image by antijoe
First there's the energy savings, where LED lighting can be run for only 10-20% of the cost of the traditional lights. Obviously this can really add up if you tend to decorate like you're Clark Griswold. You can also help with saving on your electricity bill by using a timer to control when they come on and turn off.
When looking at the purchase price, another point to consider is the lifespan of LED lights. LED are estimated to last somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 hours. Lets say you have your Christmas lights on for 12 hours during each night of November and December. Even if the LEDs lasted for only 20,000 hours, they would continue to work for 27 Christmases! Compare that to incandescent lights, which can start to burn out after 2,000 hours and could need bulbs replaced in their third year.
Other benefits of LEDs are that they are less likely to break and also run cool to the touch. Both of which are very important if you put up a real tree as incandescent bulbs can pose a fire hazard. With all the benefits of LED, maybe this will be the year you decide to upgrade as well?