It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays bring a number of things. Quality time with family and friends, gift-giving, classic holiday songs, and displays of twinkling lights throughout neighborhoods, to name a few. These wonderful traditions, of course, come at a cost. In turn making the holidays an expensive time of year for most Americans. Among those expenses is one that you may not have considered – the actual cost of running Christmas lights. How much does it actually add to your electricity bill to power those festive twinkly lights? In the spirit of the holidays, we decided to find that out. We determined the added cost to your electricity bill to run Christmas lights in every U.S. state.
For this study, we aimed to approximate a light display that was a little more elaborate than just a few simple strands of lights. While not going so far as getting into the world of the true light enthusiasts.
To start, we estimated the number of light strands needed to cover the average 2,700 square foot home. Estimating there would be between 80 and 100 feet that would face the street and require light coverage. Using those numbers, we found that ten 68.5 foot light strands would be needed, six would be used for the home and four for bushes or trees in the yard. We calculated the use of both LED lights and incandescent lights. To round out our imaginary display, we added two inflatables, a Santa and a snowman. We used the product description of each item to determine its power usage and converted it to kWh.
We estimated that the lights would run for seven hours a day, 6pm to 12am, and be up for a total of 34 days, the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. To complete our calculations, we used the government’s average for residential electricity rates in each state and multiplied the kWh hours by those rates.
After running the numbers, we found there are substantial differences in the cost of running Christmas lights across the U.S. Additionally, there are differences in cost between incandescent and LED lights. While LED lights are a more economical alternative, neither option has to break the bank (or your holiday cheer).
Hawaii has the highest price for running incandescent Christmas lights for the 34 day time period. In turn, adding $46.62 to Hawaiians’ electricity bill during the holiday season. Homeowners in Louisiana will pay the least to run their holiday light displays, a total of only $13.94. The cost of running lights is above $20 in 14 states. The national average for running an incandescent light display is $19.81.
Running an LED light display will tack on even less to your holiday electric bill – the national average for running an LED light display is $7.16. Given that the electricity rates are the same, Hawaii also has the highest LED light total ($16.36) and Louisiana the lowest ($5.04). Louisianians can spread holiday cheer to their neighbors for basically the cost of a fancy latte. In fact, it will cost you $10 or more to light your display in only 7 states, with the rest of the country coming in below $10.
You can see how your state’s rates for incandescent lights, LED lights, and inflatables compare to the rest of the country in the chart below.
There are many ways you can prepare for the holiday spending spree so you don’t have to sacrifice your light display: