Note: The electric rates used in this article were current at the time of posting. Most current rates can be found here.
If you are getting ready to put up Christmas lights, think twice before hanging the incandescent strands. While they are cheap to buy, the electricity to operate them is not. Let’s do the math for a 200 ct. strand of lights that will be on 10-hours per day over a TWO month period.
- Cost: 200-ct. strand of lights $20.00 (Sam’s Club)
- Lifespan: 20,000 hours (Holy smokes that’s a long time; it’s a whopping 833 days)
- Energy Use: approximately 15 watts
- Cost to operate (2 months): $2.07
- Cost: 100-ct. strands cost $2.69 each. Total for 200-ct. = $5.38 (Lowes)
- Lifespan: 2,000 hours (83 days)
- Energy use: approximately 50 watts (each 100-ct. strand @ 25 watts)
- Cost to operate (2 months): $6.90
But seriously, who puts up one strand of lights? You probably have at least 10 strands decorating your house and tree. Let’s look at the electric cost to plug in 10 strands for a two month period (10-hours per day):
- LEDs: $20.70
- Incandescent Lights: $69.00
Bottom line: LEDs have a higher upfront cost, but a much lower impact on your monthly electric bill. If you reuse your holiday lights from year to year, LEDs make sense.
(# of watts/1000) X (# of hours) X (# of days) X 0.23 per kilowatt-hour = cost to operate your strand of lights
Looking for more information? Check out our Christmas light comparison video on YouTube.