Christmas Lights Up? Here's How To Cut Back That Holiday Electrical Bill

Christmas lights are an integral part of the festive season. The twinkling lights not only brighten your home but also spread holiday cheer. However, your pocket won't be feeling so jolly when it's time to pay for the resultant electricity bill. Now, you might be employing common practices like turning off the lights when you're not home or after midnight to manage the bill, but these tactics will only help you so far. A better strategy to cut back the holiday electricity bill is to replace your trusty incandescent bulbs with LED (light-emitting diode) lights.

While switching one type of lighting with another might not make much sense initially, the logic is simple: LED lights will help you save your hard-earned money because they have a low wattage requirement and draw less energy than their incandescent counterparts. For instance, 800 feet of regular C9 lights will demand around 6,000 watts of electricity over 30 days, whereas similar LEDs only need 768 watts. But, keep in mind that the upfront pocket pinch will be higher for LEDs than the regular bulbs you get. That being said, you can score the best deals on Christmas lights right after the holiday season.

Reasons you should replace incandescent lights

LED lights are better than regular lights because they need up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and help you reduce the holiday electricity bill. Further, they won't put unnecessary strain on your socket, minimizing instances of your fuse short-circuiting in the middle of a celebration. Even though you'll have to pay more upfront, these lights will last almost 25 times longer, giving you a high return on the employed capital. LEDs are also a superior choice because they're free of filaments and are made of epoxy lenses instead of delicate glass. Simply put, they are a safer alternative that gives off less heat and reduces the chances of your Christmas conifer catching fire or fingers getting singed.

Moreover, they're the future. Energy Saver, a consumer resource for the U.S. Department of Energy, anticipates most lighting units will begin employing LED technology by 2035. Plus, LEDs come in a wide range of colors and designs, allowing you to choose the ones you like. The best part, though? Unlike their counterparts, these types of lights are eco-friendly. They can be easily recycled and don't contain harmful toxins like mercury. Since they need less power, LEDs also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

See the difference in your energy bill

While the advantages look great on paper, get out your calculator, the box the lights came in, and your latest utility bill — you can even open a new spreadsheet if you want to take things up a notch — to see the difference LED Christmas lights will have on your holiday electricity bill. Once you're ready, note the wattage mentioned on their box. If you don't find it on the packaging, try checking the product label.

Now, multiply the wattage by the number of hours per day you plan on letting the lights stay on. Divide the result by 1,000 to determine the value in kilowatt-hours (kWh) — the unit of energy used by electricity providers. Finally, check the electricity cost on the previous bill and multiply the kWh value to calculate the approximate cost of the holiday lights each day.

For instance, let's assume you buy a string of 300 white mini LED lights with a 21-watt requirement. For the cost of electricity, let's take the national average of 16.29 cents per kilowatt-hour (via the U.S. Energy Information Administration). Now, if you keep these lights on seven hours a day for 31 days in December, they will cost you about 74 cents for the month. However, if you get a similar string of incandescent bulbs, their wattage requirement will be 72, increasing your electricity bill to approximately $2.54. That's a big difference for just one strand of lights. The bigger your holiday light display, the more you'll save with LED.