Are Your Christmas Lights Burning Your Cash?

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With the exception of eager retailers, December 1 and the passing of Thanksgiving mark the beginning of the Christmas season for most. We play Christmas songs on the radio, decorate Christmas trees, go Christmas shopping, and bake Christmas cookies. We foresee the potential financial setbacks of Christmas presents, but might neglect to acknowledge another Christmas tradition that hits our bank statement as well –  Christmas lights!

Christmas lights become so abundant this time of year that NASA claims their effect is recognizable from space! An article from The Washington Post states that “the light intensity in American suburbs increases by thirty to fifty percent” until the start of the new year. This luminous form of Christmas cheer doesn’t come cheap, however. The same article approximated the cost of running Christmas lights for 12 hours a day for 45 days at a rate of 12 cents per kilowatt hour. (Energy use calculations were made according to manufacturer power use approximations.)

The choice between LED and incandescent bulbs makes a huge difference! Let’s say that an average family uses two mini strings of 100 bulbs for a tree and other interior decorations in addition to three C9 strings of 25 bulbs on a house exterior. If all of these bulbs were incandescent, the total cost according to the above constraints and power use estimates would be $52.42. However if all of these bulbs were LED, the total cost would amount to $1.45. That difference could go back into your pocket or towards a nice gift. Furthermore that cost difference represents an energy difference of approximately 425 kilowatt hours. Imagine the difference that an entire community or city could make on energy usage if they opted to use LED lights rather than incandescents! Unfortunately according to another article by The Washington Post these savings might encourage consumers to simply buy more lights (see here). This Christmas consider your wallet and your planet while choosing Christmas lights!

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