It’s that time of year, and no matter where you stand when it comes to managing your debt, a common question that arises for many consumers is how you can reduce the cost to power Christmas lighting. Depending on where you live in the United States and the number and types that you us, you can possibly see a jump in your utility bill for the month of between $20 to $50 USD. Although this amount doesn’t seem like much, for many families, finding places to save money only helps get through the Holiday season without bills that may last until next Christmas.
What Factors Influence your Energy Bill with Christmas Lights ?
Three are a number of factors that can influence your energy bill when it comes to your Holiday lighting. The biggest factor for most people is how many lights or elaborate of a setup are you using? Within the setup, are you using LED or incandescent bulbs? What are the wattage of your light bulbs? How many hours will you turn on the lights for each day, and how long do you plan to keep them up? Many people will keep their lights up through New Year’s or longer, so this definitely plays a role in the overall cost. The top factor that has a big impact on your energy bill is the type of bulb that is being used. For example, a 70 count string of 5mm LED bulbs will only consume 4.8 watts of energy, while a similarly-sized string of 100 incandescent mini-bulbs will use 40 watts.
When Should You Make the Jump to LED Bulbs?
In general, incandescent light bulbs can use up to 90 x the amount of energy of an LED light. Looking at it from the other way, a LED light will use approximately 1/10th of the energy of older, incandescent lights. On the negative side for those looking to save money today, LED lights cost more money on the front end. The last thing you want to do is go spend $500 to save $40 on your bills this year if money is tight. LEDs are an investment in the future. Since incandescent lights will typically only last up to 4-5 years, a good rule of thumb is to simply replace bad strings with LEDs if you can match the colors close enough. LEDs do burn brighter, so make sure you are comfortable with the look and feel of where you plan to do the LED light strings if you are doing the replacements piecemeal.
How Can You Calculate the Cost of Holiday Lighting?
Depending on where you get your lights and the type, you can sometimes get the total wattage of the string (for example if you buy them from an online retailer like Amazon, this is the case). If not, then you will need to calculate the total wattage of the string manually if you know the wattage of an individual bulb. You do this by simply multiplying Watts/bulb x total number of bulbs on the string. Then, you can multiple this value by the total number of strings to get the total watts used. If you have a variety of types of strings of lights, then you will have to repeat this process for each type.
Steps to Calculate the Total Dollar Amount of Energy Used
Step 1: Multiply Total Watts by .001 to get kWh (kilowatt-hour).
Step 2: Multiply kWh by the total hours of planned usage per day to get kWh/day.
Step 3: Multiply kWh/day x the total number of days you plan to use your lights. If you are looking to get a monthly number use either 30 or 31 days and you will get kWh/month (or the length of time that you plan to use the lights).
Step 4: Multiply kWh/month by the cost per kilo-watt charged by your utility company (you can find this value on your most recent bill). A good value to use for those in Southern states is 0.112 and you will have your estimated cost. This cost is based on the total length of time you have predicted that you will run the lights. If you use them for a longer period of time, the cost will go up, and conversely if you use them for a shorter amount of time to help reduce your bill.
Do Inflatables Cost More Money to Use?
The short answer is yes. If you are planning to use that giant inflatable snowman, Santa, or reindeer in your yard this year, it will cost you between $3 and $10 on average to use depending on the size of the decoration, length of time used, and amount of animation.
Tips to Help You Reduce Your Christmas Lighting Costs
The following are some tips that you can consider adopting to help reduce your overall Christmas or Holiday lighting costs.
1 – Change out incandescent with LED bulbs as they fail. The higher up-front cost will save money on the utility bill over the long term and are generally safer to use.
2 – Invest in an automatic timer for your lights. Timers are great; they keep you from running your Holiday lights for a timeframe longer than planned, and will help you avoid running them when it is light outside. Most timers will cost you less than $10 USD, and generally save consumers that amount of money in 1-2 Holiday seasons.
3 – Compliment the lights with ornaments. The entire Christmas light display for your home does not need to resemble the Griswold’s. Use other decorations where it makes sense that do not rely on electric power to work.
4 – Consider a star light projector. They project a laser projection with a single beam and can take the place of strings of lights for many homes. They are getting more and more complicated every year, and can offer some pretty complex animation effects for the money.