How Much Electricity Do Christmas Lights Cost?

Have you ever wondered how much money your neighbor spends on electricity for Christmas lights, especially if they’ve covered their house like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation? Or maybe you are thinking about adding enough lights to be listed among the best on the Tacky Light Tour and you want to know what to budget. In this article, I’ll provide you some insights you can use!

Incandescent Christmas lights use a significant amount of electricity compared to other types of Christmas lights. The amount of electricity they use depends on several factors, including the number of bulbs, the wattage of each bulb, and the length of time they are used.

Example chart of Christmas lights and their cost per hour

On average, a single 100-bulb strand of incandescent Christmas lights uses approximately 40 watts of electricity per hour. If you leave the lights on for 10 hours, that is equivalent to 400 watt-hours (Wh) of electricity usage. If you leave the lights on for 8 hours a day for a month, that is equivalent to approximately 96 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity usage. This can add up quickly, and the electricity cost can vary depending on your location and the cost of electricity in your area.

It’s important to note that LED Christmas lights are a more energy-efficient alternative to incandescent lights, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent lights. So, if you’re looking to save on your energy bill and reduce your environmental impact, consider switching to LED Christmas lights.

How To Determine Electricity Cost?

The cost of electricity depends on the rate you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in your area. To convert watts to kilowatts, you need to divide the wattage by 1000. So, 40 watts is equal to 0.04 kilowatts (kW).

Let’s say the rate you pay for electricity is $0.15 per kilowatt-hour. To calculate the cost of running 40 watts of electricity for one hour, you can multiply the wattage by the rate and then divide by 1000:

0.04 kW x $0.15/kWh = $0.006 per hour

So, running 40 watts of electricity for one hour would cost approximately $0.006 or less than one cent.

However, if you were to leave those lights on for an extended period of time, like a month, the cost could add up. For example, running those lights for 8 hours a day for a month would use 96 kilowatt-hours of electricity (0.04 kW x 8 hours x 30 days = 9.6 kWh), which at a rate of $0.15/kWh would cost approximately $14.40.

How Much Does Electricity of a Big Christmas Light Display Cost?

Stewart Family Christmas Lights in Arkansas courtesy of Tacky Light Tour
Stewart Family Christmas Lights in Arkansas courtesy of Tacky Light Tour

Okay, so one strand of 100 incandescent Christmas lights cost $0.006 for an hour. But, what if you built a Christmas light display like the biggest one listed on the Tacky Light Tour?

The Stewart Family Christmas Lights in Fayetteville, Georgia boast 50,000,000 Christmas lights, which is questionable. If they are all incandescent Christmas lights and we use the assumptions above, then they will pay $3,000 per hour. However, if these 50 million Christmas lights are LED, then they will cost only $300 per hour.

Here is a handy table that may help you determine the cost of the Christmas light display you are planning:

Christmas Light StringsChristmas LightsCost/Hour for IncandescentCost/Hour for LED
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Edward Worrell
Edward Worrell
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