Christmas lights are a festive sign of the season, but do you know how much it costs you to run during the holiday season? The United States Department of Energy (DoE) reports that lighting accounts for about 15% of an average home’s electricity use. And at a time when inflation is still high and utility bills are rising in the US, every little bit helps.
That’s why we’ve put together some useful energy statistics and tips on how to reduce the impact of your Christmas lights on your bottom line.
Christmas lights: how much do they cost to use
Our colleagues at Tom’s Guide (opens in new tab) report that since 2021, the national average cost of Christmas lights has increased by $1.93, or 13%, bringing it to $16.48 in 2022.
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Use the following formula to calculate your own festive light bill:
[wattage/1000 x time in hours] x costs per kWh in cents = costs to use Christmas lights
The DoE (opens in new tab) estimates that it would cost $0.27 to light a six-foot-tall tree with LEDs for 12 hours a day, for 40 days, compared to $10 for incandescent bulbs. But who isn’t tired of their Christmas tree before the 40 days are up?
Tom’s Guide explains that plugging in your lights for a few hours each day (5pm to 11pm) in December can increase your bills by the following amounts:
- Average decorations along LED lights: $5 to $7 increase
- Average decorations along light bulbs: $33 increase
- Elaborate use decorations LED lights: $47 increase
- Elaborate use decorations light bulbs: $350 raise
Use LED Christmas lights to save money
As you can see from the list above, the type of bulb you choose can help you save money during the holiday season. While many older lights were made with incandescent bulbs, switching to LED bulbs can help you cut your costs dramatically.
Southern California Edison (opens in new tab) (SCE), one of the largest U.S. utility companies, reports that energy costs can double based on the type of Christmas lights you choose. SCE claims that LEDs are less expensive and last much longer than standard C-7 bulbs or mini bulbs. LEDs are also much cooler and safer as there is no filament or breakable glass.
SCE adds that certain LED party lighting can last up to 200,000 hours and that bright, colorful LEDs can reduce holiday lighting costs by up to 90%. Five strings of LED bulbs can cost as little as 80 cents a month to operate, versus nearly $20 a month for five strings of C-7 bulbs.
According to DoE, the same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.
Try solar powered Christmas lights to save more
Solar Christmas lights are one way to save even more money on your holiday energy bill in the long run. The DoE explains that outdoor solar lighting uses solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The electricity is stored in batteries for use at night. So after an initial $10-$50 outlay for a basic solar lamp kit (according to Google Shopping (opens in new tab)), you can enjoy free Christmas lights for your home every December.
Just do your research before you buy. The DoE warns that the “nighttime running time” listings on most outdoor solar lighting systems are based on specific sunlight conditions. Less sunny regions, especially in winter, can expect a shorter transit time per night than average. Operating times in the winter months can vary from 30% to 50%, unless the solar lighting system is specifically designed for winter use.
For more energy-saving content, visit our home saving hub.