(WBIR-Gatlinburg) A bright idea by the city of Gatlinburg is paying off, five years later.
The city switched from incandescent bulbs to 100% LED bulbs in time for its "Gatlinburg Winter Magic" lights program during the 2008-09 season.
It cost about $180,000 to make the switch. While they saw significant savings up front, they have hit a new milestone.
"About five years we made the switch over, and that's about how long it's taken to recuperate the cost from switching from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs," said Marci Claude, public relations manager for the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The city did see some results, almost immediately.
Claude added, "The first year in a five month period, the savings were 75% and that was with a rate increase from TVA of about 14%."It has also cut down on labor.
"Previously, all the light fixtures had been set up with 5 watt incandescent bulbs which were very labor intensive in terms of maintenance, care, and replacement. So when we made the switch to LED lights, we cut way back on all of that," Claude said.
The conversion has allowed the city to light the entire 120 days of the winter program for what it once cost for three days of electricity.
They are now focusing on new ways to make the light show better.
The city recently launched the "Gatlinburg Interactive Tours" app, which allows visitors to take self-guided tours.
On the app, there is a list of of the different light displays and where they are located.
"It just makes our city that much more festive and by having that app, it makes it just that much more accessible to our visitors as they're here," Claude said.
The app is available for free for iPhones. According to Claude, they are working on an Android version.
Visitors can also enjoy the lights through the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride Of Lights.
The lights will stay lit until the end of February.