How Much Extra Do Your Christmas Lights Cost You On Your Electric Bill?

We crunched the numbers so you don't have to!

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In America, Christmas light displays are a staple of the season. According to a 2020 poll from Yahoo, 42% of Americans decorate their home exteriors each year. By far, the most common outdoor Christmas decorations are light displays, whether that’s a simple strand or an elaborate kaleidoscope of rainbow bulbs.

But the festive decorations come at a cost, and many holiday enthusiasts may be dreading their January electric bill. Read on to learn, on average, how much you can expect to pay for running your Christmas lights.

How Much Electricity Is Used for Christmas?

In a stunning 2008 study from the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), seasonal light displays were discovered to account for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity consumption each year. To put that in perspective, that is over 1 billion kWh more than the entire country of El Salvador uses in a year, or enough to power approximately 14 million refrigerators.

What’s the Average Cost of Lighting Christmas Lights?

Predictably, the cost of Christmas lights per household will vary according to several factors, including where the family resides, what type of lights they’re using, and how long they are keeping the lights on, according to HouseMethod.

HouseMethod first gathered data on each state’s average square footage and electricity rate. Then, they found the most popular Christmas decorations purchased from The Home Depot to use as a median sample. That sample included four sets of 13.25-foot-long icicle lights, two sets of 28.8-foot string lights and two 6-foot-tall inflatable yard decorations. HM calculated the total cost to power these lights for six hours a day, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, in each of the 50 states.

Costs ranged from $10.51 in Washington state to $38.46 in Hawaii, with an expected average of $16.48. To find your specific state, check the interactive map here.

How to Save Money Powering Your Christmas Lights

Now that you know what costs to expect this Christmas, it’s worth learning a few key ways to save money for future Christmases. Pay attention to these four tricks:

Use LED Lights

It’s no secret: LED lights are the most cost-effective. In 2017, the Washington Post determined that running one strand of LED lights costs just 1.4% of the price to run a similar string of incandescent bulbs. Yes, they are more expensive at the initial purchase, but the electric savings handily make up for the downpayment.

Store Lights Properly

Safe, clean storage leads to fewer broken bulbs. In turn, fewer broken bulbs mean that you can keep your lights for longer and bypass the need to buy more strands each year.

Set Timers with Smart Lights

Smart lights conveniently allow you to set them on a timer. This handy feature helps you eliminate extra charges, as you’ll never forget to turn off your lights.

Fix Fuses to Get More Use Out of Your Lights

Those tangled lights at the bottom of the box may still have more life in them yet. Before you throw them away, try repairing the fuses yourself to avoid the cost of replacing the strand.

Other Thrifty Tips

No matter where you’re celebrating Christmas this year, we hope these tips help eliminate some of the financial stress of the season. To save more money on decorations, try finding fun pieces at your local dollar store. After all, no handyman holiday is complete without a festive DIY!

Van Van Cleave
Van Van Cleave (they/them) is a California-based journalist, environmentalist, and artist. A graduate of Brown and Oxford Universities, they specialize in environmental news coverage and sustainable home and garden solutions. When they're not writing, they are typically tending to their plants or experimenting with home design trends.