MYTH BUSTER

Myth Buster: Do Christmas lights use a lot of electricity?

Myth 1
Christmas lights use a lot of electricity.
Myth 2
You will have a high electric bill if you put up Christmas lights.

Whether you dream of a 12ft lighted Christmas tree, a house iced in blue and white lights, or colored lights covering the inside and outside of your home – light decorations have become a joyous way to illuminate the holiday season. And yet, I hear people all throughout the holidays questioning the cost of it all and their rising electric bill. This made me want to know… what is the actual cost of powering holiday lights?

Analysis

To figure out the cost of holiday lighting, we tested three kinds of lights:

  • Mini lights
  • Mini LED lights
  • Ceramic C7 lights

Hooking these lights up to a smart plug, we monitored the lights electrical usage using the Powerley app and Energy Bridge. We used this to determine how much energy each string of lights uses over a month (in this case we used the month of December). We used the national average price per kWh of $0.13 to determine the cost.

Results – Mini Lights

The mini lights are good for both indoor and outdoor lighting. They come in strings of 100 and each string uses 0.039 kWh per hour and 0.95 kWh per day. If you are like me and leave the house in the morning when it is still dark and return after dark, you probably feel the desire to just leave your lights on all day. Unfortunately, that does drive the cost up considerably. That equals $3.82 per month for each string of lights. Now, considering that it takes 700 lights to fill a 7ft tree, 1,000 for a 10ft tree and as much as 2,000 for a 12ft tree, the cost of lighting substantially increases.

Mythbuster, Cost of Christmas lights, energy efficiency, home energy management

Once you add this up, it could seem like a lot in extra expenses after buying the lights. But let’s see how this changes with LEDs. After plugging in the LEDs we found that they only consume 0.0045 kWh per hour. This comes to 0.11 kWh per day and 3.41 kWh per month. This means one strand only costs $0.44 per month. That is a savings of 88%! See how that savings impacts your tree’s lighting.

Mythbuster, Cost of Christmas lights, energy efficiency, home energy management

Home automation can lead to even more savings. To still get to see my lights on when I leave for work and come home, I automated them using the Powerley app, to turn off when I leave the house at 8:00am and turn on when I am heading back home at 5:30pm. This reduces the time that they are consuming energy to 14.5 hours per day.

Mythbuster, Cost of Christmas lights, energy efficiency, home energy management

By automating my Christmas lights, I saved another 40% on electricity. But what about when it comes to bigger lights that pull more energy?

Results – Ceramic C7

The Ceramic C7 bulbs are bigger lights and are great to get that traditional holiday feeling. The string of bulbs we used to test is 25ft long with 25 lights, meaning that you could need as much as 100 of these bigger bulbs to cover a 7ft tree.

These lights draw 130 Watts constantly. This translates to 0.13 kWh per hour, or 3.16 kWh per day and 97.96 kWh per month, with an additional electrical cost of $12.73. But when using the four strings of lights needed to cover a 7ft tree, it goes up.

For comparison, this is more than your monthly cost for a microwave, TV, and lighting for 4-5 rooms. With a 10ft tree, this would be around 150 lights, costing $75.43 per month. Upgrade to a 12ft tree with 200 lights and you are paying around $100.58 per month.

While this is pretty expensive for holiday cheer, it doesn’t have to be. LEDs are known to reduce lighting expenses by 80-95%. Since moving from regular mini lights to mini LEDs reduced lighting expenses by 88%, the Ceramic C7 LEDs would most likely be the same. With that in mind, it would bring power usage down to 0.0156 kWh per hour. This equates to 0.38 kWh per day and 11.78 kWh per month. This would cost $1.53 per strand of light which brings monthly cost to only $6.12 with 100 lights, $9.18 with 150 lights, and $12.24 with 200 lights.

Applying the adjusted time of use schedule to the C7 LED lights means that power usage goes down to only 7.01 kWh a month per stand of lights which cost just $0.91. This means lighting a 7ft tree would only cost $3.64 per month. Lighting a 10ft tree would cost $5.64 per month. And lighting a 12ft tree would cost $7.28 per month. This increases to an almost 93% savings compared to regular C7 lights running all day!

So, the answer . . . Christmas lights don’t have to use a lot of energy. By using LED lights and putting your lights on an automated schedule, you can reduce the cost of holiday lighting to have a minimal impact on your electrical bill.