How Much Electricity Do Christmas Lights Use?

led lights on a strip

With Christmas just a few weeks away, neighborhoods around America are converted into pockets of festive joy and bright glow of red, green, and white – string lights, tree lights, icicle lights, waving Santas, or Rudolf with a bright red neon nose.

If are more of a realist, you might look at Christmas lights as not only a time-honored tradition but also a potential sharp spike on your electric bill the next month. Well, so do we! We analyzed how much do Christmas lights cost to run and more importantly, whether can you reduce your holiday season electric usage, without sacrificing any of the joys.

Types of Christmas Lights

In order to start calculating the Christmas light cost, we need to be able to differentiate between types of Christmas light. Just like each appliance in your home consumes a different amount of energy, so do different Christmas lights.

how many amps do christmas lights use

Christmas Tree

The most common Christmas tree mini lights that you can find at any grocery store use around 25 watts per each strand with approximately 100 lights per strand. Though that might not sound like a lot, this can quickly add up considering that your Christmas tree requires about 10 strands of these lights. This rounds up to 250 watts, which is more than what’s consumed by your flat screen LCD TV.

christmas light energy cost calculator

Outdoor String Lights

The outdoor string lights are a lot bigger (so that they are easily spotted and admired by the neighbors) and therefore consume more energy. A strand of 100 big festive lamp-like bulbs uses 500 watts of energy and if you want to cover your entire home, you might need anywhere between 10 and 20 strands.

Outdoor Tree Lights

If you want to be even more extravagant and decorate a large Christmas tree outside your home, you might need approximately 20000 lights. One set of 25 Incandescent C9 Stringer Set lights consume approximately175 watts, so to light up the whole Christmas tree, you will need approximately 80 strands and consume 14,000 watts of energy.

That’s more than your dishwasher, coffee machine, fridge & freezer, toaster, and washing machine combined. Ouch!

how much does it cost to leave christmas lights on all night

Christmas Decorations/Accessories Requiring Electricity

Any other lit-up decorations you might want to display in your front yard will consume electricity. We are talking about sparkling snowmen, bright Santas and reindeer, and others. Though the actual usage will depend on the decoration, you can assume an average consumption of 120 watts per decoration.

Icicle Lights

A strand of 100 icicle lights will use about 5500 watts of energy. Although icicle lights decorations are undeniably fun and can be used in many creative ways after the holiday season, they will come with a high running price tag.

Different Types of Lights

If the previous session got you worried about how much does it cost to run Christmas lights, there is a bright side too (pun intended). LED lights to use six times less the wattage of incandescent lighting which translates to about six times less cost. LED lights are your most energy-efficient option. Let’s compare the LED vs incandescent Christmas lights:

Incandescents

The old-style incandescent bulbs are expensive to run— and this is especially true for the larger bulbs.  Remember the 175 watts big plump outdoor lights we talked about in the previous section? A strand works out to a whopping $15.12 to run over a season (assuming 12-hour-a-day operation for 45 days).

comparable string of C9 LEDs, by contrast, uses just 2.4 watts and costs 21 cents to run over the same period.

LEDs

Unlike incandescents that produce light by heating the inner filament, LEDs light up using conductors without generating heat, so they use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting. The average life expectancy of an LED lightbulb is 50000 hours, which means that you will likely use your LED Christmas lights forever.

Calculating the Cost

If Clark Griswald in Christmas Vacation wanted to decorate his house, his Christmas lights electricity for the holiday season would cost him $1,600. That’s assuming that he hadn’t already switched electric suppliers, so he’d have to pay the average national electric rate of approximately 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Are you wondering about how many watts do Christmas lights use at your home and what’s the total cost? Let’s use our Christmas light energy cost calculator to compare the cost of LED Christmas lights vs incandescent below:

Incandescents

Let’s say that these are the lights you are using this holiday season and they are all incandescent bulbs:

  • 5 strands of mini lights for your Christmas tree (with 100 incandescent mini lights each)
  • 10 strands of Outdoor String Lights (with 100 bulbs each)
  • One big outdoor Santa
  • One strand of 100 icicle lights

If you are all out and lit up all of these for 10 hours a day, this would be your daily energy usage:

  • 5 x 25 watts x 7 hours (mini lights) = 875 watts
  • 10 x 500 watts x 7 hours (outdoor string lights) = 35 000 watts
  • 240 watts x 7 hours (Santa) = 1,680 watts
  • 5 x 550 watts x 7 hours (icicle lights) = 19,250 watts

Total cost per day – 57 kWh (56,805 watts) at $0.13 per kWh= $7.4 per day or about $222 for the season!

LEDs

No one really wants to spend over two hundred dollars for Christmas lights (and that’s still excluding the installation costs), so what other choice is there? You might remember that comparing incandescent vs LED Christmas lights, LEDs are approximately 7 times more efficient, meaning that the LED Christmas lights wattage would be approximately 7-times lower.

That brings our electricity cost for the season down to $31 and to a mere $1 a day! That is a lot better deal and a lot of extra money to spend on Christmas gifts instead!

How Long Should Christmas Lights Be On?

Most of the front yard displays are on from 5 pm to approximately 10 or 11 pm. Is that electricity-efficient? Well, that highly depends on the type of lights you have. Incandescents are very inexpensive, but there is a down-size: nearly 90% of the energy is wasted, floating off into the air in the form of heat.

Why is that an issue? According to the National Fire Protection Association40% of holiday fires are started by lighting equipment, resulting in 13,000 people ending up in emergency rooms each season.

LEDs on the other hand contain a significantly lower risk of overheating and becoming a fire hazard. They operate on low-voltage electrical systems and are able to withstand hot as well as cold temperatures.

FAQs

Below are answers to some of the questions you might have about the Christmas light energy cost calculator:

Do Christmas lights use less electricity than light bulbs?

The type of decoration you use during the festive season can have Christmas light wattage for different types of Christmas decoration. The most common festive minis use around 25 watts per each strand with 100 lights whereas a strand of 100 big festive lamp-like bulbs uses 500 watts of energy. If you want to cover your entire home, you might need anywhere between 10 and 20 strands. so the cost will vary sharply.

How much electricity does a string of Christmas lights use?

Different types of festive lights consume different amounts of electricity. A string of mini lights that you can find at any grocery store uses around 25 watts, whereas a strand of 100 big festive lamp-like bulbs uses 500 watts and a string of 100 icicle lights will use about 5500 watts of energy. One way you can manage your festive electricity consumption is to invest in LEDs – they will use approximately 7-times less electricity, they don’t represent a fire hazard and their average life expectancy is 50 000 hours, which means that you will likely use yours forever.

How much do Christmas lights raise your electric bill?

Christmas lights are an undeniable part of the festive spirit, but if you are not careful, they can add more than just a few dollars to your electricity bill. How much energy do Christmas lights use exactly? Incandescent bulbs can use anywhere between 25 to 175 watts per strand, depending on the type. This cost can quickly add up, considering an average household uses approximately 20,000 lights to light up the house. In comparison, LEDs are approximately 7-times more-efficient.

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