LED Christmas Holiday light savings

LED Christmas Lights: How Much Will You Save In Energy Costs?

  • Written By: Kelly Bedrich

  • Ho, Ho, Oh No! Use LED Christmas lights this year to keep your electric bill from becoming the ghost of Christmas past come January.

    Whether you prefer a light touch or are the next Clark Griswold, holiday lights are a part of our traditions.

    For most people, once they start the tradition it continues to grow, year after year. After all, who can pass up the deep discounts at those after-Christmas sales? The only problem with an ever-growing collection of bright holiday cheeriness is that your electric bill will grow right along with your collection of lights.

    It’s time to toss out your old strings of lights and other electric decorations. Today’s newer LED Christmas lights cost next to nothing for shining through the holiday season. With LED Christmas lights, you’ll shine through the holidays for a fraction of the cost.

    How Much Can I Save By Switching To LED Christmas Lights?

    Switching your traditional Christmas lights out with newer LED Christmas lights can save you a surprising amount of money.

    If you have a typical modest Christmas display on your home, your energy costs would be approximately $10-$15 for incandescent lights, or around $2 for LEDs for the holiday season. The savings improve with every addition to your holiday display.

    For heavy usage where people slow down to see your house, the typical energy costs would be approximately $115 for traditional lights versus $15-$20 for LED lights.

    For a jaw-dropping display where people actually make your house a destination to admire your holiday cheer, the costs could be well over $300 with traditional lighting versus a modest $40-$50 with LEDs.

    The energy savings on your bills all point toward switching to LED Christmas lights.

    They consume 80 to 90 percent less power than compared to incandescent lights, plus they last up to 100,000 hours (around 10 years!). Considering the 3,000 hour average lifespan for incandescent Christmas lights, you’ll save even more by not having to replace your decorations as often.

    What are the Types of LED Christmas Light Bulbs?

    When purchasing strings of Christmas lights for decoration, the first consideration is the bulb size and types of bulbs. The chart below shows light types and sizes ranging from C9 (traditional look) to mini LEDs.

    Source: PersonalCreations.com

    Mini LED Lights are also called M5 LEDs. These tiny lights are perfect for small Christmas trees or accent lighting, or perhaps for a wreath.

    Standard LED string lights, called M6 LEDs, are the size that most people use on Christmas trees and wreaths. They are great for wrapping around greenery or porch columns. You can get them in multi-light icicle designs and also as netting designed to drape over bushes. Or jump up slightly in size with a C3 LED string light.

    Mini Pine Cone or Mini Cone LED Christmas Lights, or C6 LED string lights, give a festive look. They’re small enough to be used on a tree, and look perfect draped with garland on a front porch.

    Want a more traditional look? Go with the C7 LED light string. These larger bulbs were popular in the 60’s and 70’s and were usually multi-color. This larger size gives a more traditional look for your tree. And, they are great for outside on the roof edge as well.

    Or, go with C9 LED light strings, with are around 2.25″ high and 1.2 ” wide. These larger bulbs really pop when used on larger in-yard holiday displays or for lighting rooflines.

    How Much Will My Christmas Lights Cost on My Electricity Bill?

    You can easily calculate the amount of money you will spend on your Christmas lights. And the chart below shows how much less you will spend on your Christmas lights when you use LED bulbs. The savings are substantial!

    Power Usage for Christmas Lights

    ItemIncandescent WattsLED Watts
    400 ft C9 String on Roof2800 Watts385 Watts
    200 ft C9 String in Yard1400 Watts192 Watts
    10 Mini LED Strings for front yard trees403 Watts47 Watts
    15 Mini LED Strings for Christmas Tree612 Watts72 Watts
    1 Wreath with mini lights63 Watts7 Watts
    Total Watts5278 Watts702 Watts
    Total Kilowatts5.278 kilowatts.702 kilowatts
    Number of Hours Daily6 hours6 hours
    Number of kWh Daily31.67 kWh Daily4.21 kWh Daily
    Days Thanksgiving to January 5th41 days41 days
    Total kWh for holiday lighting1,298.5 kWh used172.69 kWh used
    Cost (at 16¢/kWh)$207.76$27.63

    To calculate how much you will spend on electricity for Christmas lights, follow this step by step process.

    Time needed: 30 minutes

    How to Calculate Total Electricity Cost for Christmas Lights

    1. Identify the type of Christmas lights and light types you will need.

      Measure your areas to determine how many light strings you will need for your home. Include any lights you want on the roofline, shrubs, trees, plus interior lights. Pick the lightbulb size using the chart above.

    2. Identify the total wattage of your Christmas lights.

      Use the internet or visit your local hardware store to find the wattage label on the lights you will purchase. You’ll find this on the outside of the box or, you can find it on the label on lights you already have. wattage label on christmas tree lights

    3. Convert total watts to kilwatts

      Divide total watts by 1000 to convert to kilowatts

    4. Estimate total daily usage of your lights and number of days you will have them lit.

      For example, if you have your lights on from dusk until bedtime, you may have your lights on for 6 hours a day. Many people put up their Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving and leave them up through the 12th day of Christmas, which is January 5th. That’s 41 days.

    5. Calculate the number of kilowatt hours you will use

      Number of kilowatts * # hours per day * # of days = total amount of kilowatt hours you will use.

    6. Multiply total kilowatt hours by your average price per kilowatt hour (kWh)

    Now that you have that amount, you can better budget for your electricity costs. Need to make some tradeoffs? Here are ways to save on your winter heating bill.

    Benefits of LED Christmas Lights

    It’s clear that LED holiday lights are the front runner in the competition for economical Christmas decorations, but that’s not the only benefit they have.

    Here are some other benefits of LED Christmas lights:

    • With traditional lights, you can only connect four or five strings of lights together on one outlet, limiting the amount of lights you can safely use in one area. With LED lights you can safely connect 20 plus light strings together. If the ultimate decorations are your holiday dream, LED lights are definitely the safer solution.
    • LED Christmas lights come in a wider range of colors, are generally brighter than incandescent light strings, and even come in strings connected to dimmers for different lighting effects. Look for warm white to recreate the look of incandescent bulbs.
    • LED Christmas lights don’t produce any heat, unlike incandescent bulbs. This means they’re safe for use within reach of children and pets, and pose almost no fire danger in case you have dry trees or grass in your landscape. This is especially true when considering LED bulbs for indoor use on natural trees and decorations also.
    • LED light sets are generally rated to last decades, not just a season or two, meaning you can keep adding to your holiday collection each year instead of merely replacing burned out old versions of the same lights year after year.

    The bottom line is that LED Christmas lights are a much improved version of your old holiday light collections, for both inside and out.

    Want to save even more on your electricity bill this holiday season? Check your bill and make sure you aren’t paying too much for your electricity. Use our guide to shopping for cheap power for more information.

    Christmas Lights and Electrical Safety

    LED lights burn with less heat, which reduces the risk of fire. But electrical safety with Christmas lights is an important topic.

    According to the National Fire Protection Fire Association, nearly half of home Christmas tree fires were caused by faulty electrical distribution (plugs) or lighting equipment. The easiest way to avoid the issue? Use an artificial tree that is labeled as “fire retardant.” If it does catch fire, it will resist burning and the fire will be easier to put out.

    For indoor decorations, make sure any extension cords are rated for the number of lights you are plugging in and the distance the cord is running. Occasionally check the extension cord at the electrical outlet. If the outlet or the extension cord are warm? That’s a problem. Unplug it and talk to an electrician.

    Extension cords have a big role in outdoor lighting safety as well. Use an extension cord that’s rated for outdoor use and based on how far the power needs to travel. If you need a longer cord, purchase one with a 12 or 10-gauge weight. For strings of lights, use 16-gauge extension cord for light runs of 25 feet or less and go with a heavier duty 14-gauge cord for runs over 25 feet.

    When attaching lights to your home, consider using insulated hooks that you can install and leave up year round. That makes holiday decorating easy. If you are using a stapler for light installation, avoid puncturing the electrical line and use U-shaped staples, specially created to avoid puncturing the electrical line.

    Lastly, always turn your indoor and outdoor lights off at night. That helps ensure your safety. Plus it keeps your holiday light bill lower.

    Best LED Christmas Lights for 2021

    The holiday season is always busy. So here’s our wrap up of the top 3 best LED Christmas Lights for 2021, with easy purchase links on Amazon. (As an Amazon Associate, ElectricityPlans.com will earn from qualifying purchases.)

    Retro big bulb LED Lights. Want to recreate that look you remember from childhood? That’s a C9 light. Go with big colored outdoor bulbs from GE Energy Smart for your outdoor Christmas decorations. 

    Retro big bulb Christmas LED lights C-0 by GE

    White LED Lights. White lights are the classic look for your front yard, wrapped around greenery or on your tree. The GE Energy Smart Miniature LED lights have been awarded “best holiday string lights” by The Wirecutter, which reviewed over 100 brands. The warm white light is closest in color to traditional incandescent bulbs lights.

    White LED holiday light string miniture lights GE

    Fun Snowflake LED Lights. If you’re in a southern climate like us, you make your own snow when you can. These fun snowflake fairy lights are LED, programmable and have 8 different light settings. (They’re in our cart right now. Get your own.)

    Snowflake twinkle lights LED christmas lights

    About Kelly Bedrich

    Kelly Bedrich co-founded ElectricityPlans in 2016 with the goal of simplifying the complicated process of buying energy. As president and chief technology officer, Kelly keeps our development team focused on providing a user-friendly website. When not reading the latest on technology and finance, Kelly enjoys celebrating Taco Tuesday, listening to live music at local venues, and hiking.

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