The surprising cost of Christmas

Christmas is a joyful time of the year, until the bills start rolling in. It may start with the credit card statement you’re in denial about or an increase in water usage from having relatives stay. Most importantly, if you’re a passionate decorator, it may be power bill shock from illuminating your family home in all the colours and lights of Christmas.

Most people will join in on festive decorations without giving a second thought as to how much the lights or decorations may cost to run, or the difference in lights available to purchase. But have you ever wondered how much it will cost to run your Christmas lights?

It’s important to note that the display size and choice of bulbs, whether traditional lights or LED, will influence your energy bill the most.

It’s difficult not to purchase LED lights these days, but if you’re pulling a dusty set of lights out of the cupboard that you bought years ago, be mindful that traditional incandescent lights use up to 90% more power than LED.

To find out how much it will cost to run your Christmas lights, you first need to know how many total watts you will be using. You then multiple this by 0.001 to find the  number of kilo-watts, before multiplying how many hours a day you will be using them to get the number of kilowatt hours (kWh).

Sound confusing? Luckily there are calculators online to do the hard work for you, but how much does the average house decorator spend?

Let’s say you purchase three sets of 200 fairy lights, which are roughly 0.45 watts per bulb. If we pay 0.28 cents per kWh, the total cost of electricity per hour is $0.075 and if you run it for five hours a night, you’re looking at $0.37. Multiply this by 31 days in December and you will find an extra $11.62 appearing on your bill – not much, is it?

Keep in mind that the easiest way to waste energy (and the easiest way to waste money) is to run your Christmas lights 24/7. Expect to see an extra $55.80 slapped onto your bill based on the previous equation.

Tips for reducing your power bill this Christmas

  1. Choose energy efficient LED globes over traditional globes. Although they may be pricier to purchase, they’re a lot cheaper to run, using 80-90% less power to operate.
  2. Use a timer to turn your lights off while everyone is asleep, there won’t be many people wandering around looking at lights at 2am.
  3. Some people like to leave their lights on from November through to January, but if you’re money conscious, consider shortening the season and only running them through December.

About the author

Domenic Capomolla is the founder and CEO of Sumo Power. Having worked in the energy industry for close to 20 years, Domenic is an expert on deregulated and contestable power and gas markets.

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