Christmas Lights and Energy Savings

Wondering if it is really worth it to change out your incandescent Christmas lights this year for energy saving LED’s? Regular Holiday lights can be purchased for as cheap as $2 for a string of 100. LEDs might cost up to $11 for the same sized strand. Should you shell out the extra cost up front for LED Christmas lights?

By now, most people are aware that the energy savings from LED light bulbs make them a good deal in the long run even if they cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs up front, but what about on Christmas lights? Most of us only use Christmas lights a few weeks a year. So can the difference in energy consumption over such a short period of time make up for the higher up front price?

When comparing traditional Christmas lights to their LED counterparts, it has been found that LED bulbs use about use about .0022 kWh per hour of electricity compared to .0408 kWh per hour for regular Christmas lights. Given that the average consumer in the United States is charged about $0.13 per kWh, the LED bulbs will cost on average $.0003/hour in electricity, while the regular bulbs will cost $.0053/hour.

That seems like a pretty big difference, but to keep it in perspective, one must consider both the initial cost of the LED lights (being typically 3-4 times the cost of regular Christmas lights), and how long you actually have your lights up and running.

If you imagine a typical household might put their lights up 2 weeks before Christmas, keep them up until 1 week after Christmas , and keep the lights on for about 4 hours per day, then they would have the lights on for about 84 hours during the Holiday season.

To run regular bulbs, that would amount to about 45 cents versus just 2 cents for LEDs. If you factor in the cost of the strands, the regular bulbs would run you about $2.45 a season and the LED’s about $11.02. Even if you use your lights more, the regular bulbs tend to stay ahead on the cost curve.

It might not really seem worth it until you look at the long term possibilities. Incandescent bulbs just don’t last as long and you likely will have to replace them more often. So, even though they cost less upfront, you may be buying them every few years. LED’s claim to last up to 25,000 hours. That might be all the Christmases in your lifetime! You may not have to replace them at all. Or realistically, at least not as often as the incandescent bulbs.

So over the long term, LED’s could cost you less overall than the old fashioned bulbs. If you are a “heavy user” of Christmas lights, your savings might add up. If you are more of the average user, it could be a toss up.

Choosing LED’s over regular Christmas lights is a personal decision. You may not want to run out and replace all your strands, but it might be a good idea when your traditional bulbs need replacing to consider LED’s. Even a small savings to you over the years is still a savings and it is worth it to consider that LED’s definitely use less electricity, and less energy, burning less carbon and creating a better environmental outcome than traditional incandescent bulbs.


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