I always wondered how much our Christmas decoration is costing us, in terms of energy usage. I noticed around $20 to $40 energy bill jump for the month of December. The below picture, taken in 2016, is our home partially lit up in the first week of December. We added more lighting afterward. $40 is no small amount. So, how to reduce cost to power Christmas lighting
A number of things influence our energy bill. How elaborate is my decoration, do I use incandescent or LED bulbs, the wattage of my bulbs, how long I am putting up the display for and for how many hours I have the lighting turned on every day.
The number 1 factor that determines energy bill is the type of bulb. A 100-count string of incandescent mini bulbs consumes 40 watts, whereas 70-count of 5mm LEDs consumes only 4.8 watts!
That means that the cost to power incandescent lights can be up to 90-times greater than powering LEDs. Or, LED lights use about one-tenth the energy of old-fashion incandescent lights.
Now, LEDs are more costly upfront, but they may save you money in the long run. If you are putting up lights for a few years now, you must be knowing that incandescent bulbs last shorter. I’d say each string lasted between 2-4 years only.
I first bought LED mini bulb in 2010 and that string is still in use. At the same time, a LED bulb is brighter and produces more vibrant colors.
to reduce the cost to power Christmas lighting, I would recommend using LED bulbs going forward. Replace nonworking incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs from now on.
How to calculate holiday lighting Cost
Sometimes you can get the total wattage of the whole string in the label itself. If you buy from online stores like Amazon, you can surely get the total wattage.
If you have the wattage of individual bulbs then find out the total watts you’ll be using,
- Watts per bulb x number of bulbs on the string = total watts per string
- Multiple total watts per string x how many strings of lights = total watts
If you have many different kinds of strings then you have to calculate above for each type of strings.
Once you have an idea about many total watts you’ll be using for the entire decoration, next step is to calculate total dollar amount that you’ll be seeing by the month end.
- Multiply total watts by 0.001 to find the kilowatt-hour (kWh) = kwh
- Multiply kwh by 5 hours a day to find kWh per day = kWh/day
- Multiply kwh/day by 30 days = kWh/month
- Multiply kWh/month by the cost per kilo-watt your utility company charges ( we have it at 0.113 cents and Kilo Watt from FPL)= ESTIMATED COST
Now, that’s your cost based running your holiday display five hours per day for 30 days. Of course, you can control this cost by when you choose to put up your lights, how many strings you use and how long you have them on each evening is up to you and your budget. But, at least you can estimate how much it may add to your bill, i.e. cost to power Christmas lighting
Have you ever wanted to put a giant inflatable reindeer or snowman in your yard?
As for those fun inflatable decorations that have become very popular in recent years, typical inflatables can cost anywhere from $2 – $9 a month in terms of energy usage, depending on the size, whether it’s animated or not, and how long you have it inflated each day.
Tips to reduce cost to power Christmas lighting
- Buy LED bulbs – they are more expensive up front, but you’ll save on energy costs in the future. Plus, they don’t radiate heat like incandescent bulbs, making them safer to people and other potentially combustible decorations.
- Use automatic timers –to ensure you’re running the lights or inflatable’s for a defined time period each day – fewer hours means less energy used. This year I bought a time that only switches on the circuit when it’s sufficiently dark. Now we don’t have to power on in the afternoon if we will be out of home for rest of the day. You can search for outdoor timer and find the best rate online. Local Lowes or HomeDepot also stock them. These devices cost under $10 and can save more than double that amount in one Christmas!
- Use extension cords – instead of using light strings to add length to your display, utilize extension cords in less visible areas. Moreover, extension cords can last decades.
- Use other ornamental decorations as well – supplement your holiday displays with ornaments such as wreaths, ribbons and other decorations that don’t consume energy. Plus, they are the only decorative items during the day
- Use star light projectors – This is the latest innovation in the industry. They use a laser-like projection on a surface. With a single beam, you can illuminate a larger area and save on the cost of putting strings of lights instead. They cost under $50 but can save you from buying expensive LED mini bulbs and then, in the long run, you save on power consumption. You can now have rotating and moving lights that can add animation lighting effect to your yard and walls. (See image below)
And most importantly, enjoy the holidays!
I am grateful to Florida Power and Light (FPL) for the inspiration an content help.