How Much Do Christmas Lights Cost to Operate?

christmas light energy useWe don’t sell or install lighting products at Magic Touch Mechanical, but we do conduct hundreds of home energy audits in the Mesa – Phoenix, Arizona area every year, and lighting costs are one of the things we calculate when modeling a home’s energy usage and carbon footprint.

The most common types of light bulbs we see being used in most of the homes we test in recent years are:

  • Incandescent (old-school light bulbs)
  • CFL (Compact Fluorescent)
  • LED (Light Emitting Diode)

Every once in a while, we still see halogen lamps being used (think about the tall skinny lamps that were popular in the 80’s) but most people know they are very expensive to operate and because of the high amount of heat they generate can be dangerous to operate.

The three common types listed above are listed in most expensive to least expensive to operate order. I.E. the incandescent bulb costs the most and the LED costs the least to operate. However, typically the upfront cost of bulbs is the opposite, with incandescent bulbs being the least expensive to purchase, and LED costing the most.

 

Is the higher cost of an LED Bulb worth it?

 

The short answer is yes. Because of the significantly reduced power costs and the additional longevity of LED vs. incandescent or for that matter even CFL lightbulbs, the additional upfront cost of LED bulbs eventually pays for itself and will actually save you money in the long run – how long depends on how many hours a day the light stays on and obviously the cost of electricity in your area.

 

Christmas Lights are Typically either Incandescent or LED

 

Now that we know what type of bulb is what, let’s look at the cost to operate the two different types of lightbulbs found in ordinary Christmas light strings, incandescent and LED. For the purposes of this demonstration I’m going to use one (1) string of one-hundred (100) bulbs, the most common size.

In this scenario, I’m using an assumption that the cost of electricity is $0.10 per kilo-watt hour (a liberal cost which may be lower than what you actually pay per KWh), and that the lights are on for 6-hours per night.

 

how much does it cost to run christmas lights

 

  • C9-Incandescent (2” aka full-size LARGE bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.42

Cost per month: $12.60

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $63.00

VS.

  • C9-LED (1.5” aka full-size LARGE bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.06

Cost per month: $1.80

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $9.00

Cost difference: C9 incandescent bulbs cost 7X more than C9 LED bulbs

 

  • C7-Incandescent (2” aka full-size MEDIUM bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.30

Cost per month: $9.00

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $45.00

VS.

  • C7-LED (2” aka full-size MEDIUM bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.03

Cost per month: $0.90

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $4.50

Cost difference: C7 incandescent bulbs cost 10X more than C7 LED bulbs

 

  • Mini-Incandescent (1/2” MINI bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.02

Cost per month: $0.72

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $3.60

VS.

  • Mini-LED (1/2” MINI bulb) / per 100 bulb string:

Cost per day: $0.00

Cost per month: $0.12

Cost per month assuming 5 strings of lights: $0.60

Cost difference: mini incandescent bulbs cost 6X more than mini LED bulbs

  

Bottom Line:

Clearly whether using LED bulbs or incandescent bulbs, the mini lights cost significantly less to operate that medium of large bulbs, with LED’s being the clear winner at less than ½ a cent per day.

In this example, we used the cost per 1 string of 100 bulbs and 5-strings of 100. If your display is the talk of the neighborhood you are likely using dozens of strings. If the large display is what you want, mini LED bulbs will save you a small fortune and justify the additional upfront cost in just one holiday season.

 

If you are interested in other ways to reduce your energy usage and lower your monthly power bills, are a resident of Arizona within 35-miles of Mesa, and are a customer of SRP or APS, give Magic Touch Mechanical a call today to schedule a $99 home energy audit. We have helped hundreds of clients reduce their energy bills by more than 50%, and thousands by more than 25%.

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