The cost of Christmas lights


Christmas is a joyful time of coming together with friends and family, and what better way to get into the spirit than with Christmas lights? But once Santa has been and gone, and those dreaded post-Christmas bills start rolling in, we quickly come crashing back to reality.

There is a long held belief that Christmas lights are a major culprit of Christmas bill shock, but we’re here to tell you that’s not quite the case these days. After crunching the numbers, we have worked out how much your Christmas lights are really adding to your electricity bill.

How much do Christmas lights cost to run?

LED Christmas lights will only add $0.1 to $1 to your electricity bill over the Christmas season. Nearly all modern day Christmas lights are LEDs, which have become popular due to their minimal electricity usage. After comparing dozens of Christmas lights, we found the average set of Christmas lights will consume 1.2W to 2W of electricity for every 100 LED light bulbs.

Incandescent Christmas lights consume up to 90% more electricity than LEDs and consequently cost considerably more to run. The standard set of Incandescent fairy lights will consume 40W per 100 lights, and may cost the average household $17.79 per 1,000 bulbs through December.

The below tables compare the running cost of LED and incandescent Christmas lights. For the purposes of this illustration, we are assuming an electricity usage rate of 28.7c/kWh.

LED Christmas lights running cost

Number of lights Wattage Hourly cost 24 hour cost Seasonal cost*
200 2.4W 0.07c 1.68c 10.85c
220 2.6W 0.08c 1.92c 12.4c
300 3.6W 0.1c 2.40c 15.5c
500 6W 0.17c 4.08c 26.35c
750 9W 0.26c 6.24c 40.3c
1000 20W 0.34c 8.16c 52.7c
2000 40W 0.57c 13.68c 88.35c

*Assumes lights used 5 hours per night, each day of December (31 days)

Bear in mind that while many LEDs only consume 1.2W per 100 bulbs, some will use nearly twice as much electricity, particularly those which flash or twinkle. That said, even the most power consuming LEDs out there will only cost you a few dollars at most this Christmas.

Incandescent Christmas lights running cost

Number of lights Wattage Hourly cost 24-hour cost Seasonal cost*
200 80W 2.29c 54.96c $3.55
220 88W 2.53c 60.72c $3.92
300 120W 3.4c 81.60c $5.27
500 200W 5.74c $1.38 $8.89
750 300W 8.61c $2.07 $13.35
1000 400W 11.48c $2.76 $17.79
2000 800W 22.96c $5.51 $35.59

Assumes lights used 5 hours per night, each day of December (31 days)

You can probably see why incandescent light bulbs can’t be found on Aussie shelves these days! There is an absolutely phenomenal difference between the running cost of LED and incandescent Christmas lights, with incandescent bulbs costing you as much as $34 more this Christmas.

Christmas lights can last many years when cared for, but if you’re still parading the incandescent fairy lights you bought 10 years ago, it’s probably in the best financial interest to move with the times and make the switch to LED Christmas lights. The savings on electricity will pay for the lights itself.

How you can reduce your power bill this Christmas

  • Consider solar Christmas lights: Solar Christmas lights are becoming increasingly popular as they cost literally nothing to power. The main drawback is, of course, that they require sunlight, which will only power the Christmas lights for a few hours into the night. They may also be a little more expensive to purchase up front.
  • Use a timer: If you’re going to bed early, use a switch timer to ensure the lights are not left on overnight.
  • Plan your light display: As we mentioned, flashing or twinkling lights consume more electricity. Unless you’re really trying to impress, stick with solid Christmas lights. Some more obvious tips are to only turn your lights on when it is completely dark (around 7pm depending on location), only have your display lit through December, and don’t overdo it with the number of lights.

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