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How much does it cost to run your Christmas lights?

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All those festive flashing bulbs feel like they should cost a fortune and spike up your energy bill. But in reality, they're not the culprit.

Christmas lights are an essential part of the season for many, and you may be worried that your snazzy display with 18 blown-up Santa Clauses is driving your power bill to unmanageable heights.

Luckily, this isn't the case – we've run the numbers to prove it and considered other factors that could be causing your bills to climb over the festive season.

What's the cost to keep your Christmas lights running?

If you've already made the switch to solar strings, then Christmas lights won't cost you a cent. However, there are still ways to save on energy this Christmas.

For everyone else, LED Christmas lights will only add $1–$2 to your electricity bill for the entire month.

While incandescent bulbs can use up to 90% more energy than their LED counterparts – costing approximately $10 for the month to run – they've been banned for sale in Australia since 2009. Unless you've been hanging onto your lights for over a decade, you should have LED or solar models.

We've taken some common Christmas lights that you'd pick up at the department store and calculated their running costs.

LED string size (# of lights)WattageHourly running costCost for December (6 hours/day)Cost for December (24 hours/day)

Note: This table assumes an average electricity rate of 27c/kWh and assumes that your lights are up for the whole of December.

These values are just a guide. The exact costs can vary depending on a couple of factors, such as:

  • The size and brightness of your Christmas lights
  • Whether the lights flash or not
  • Cost of power where you live

Since the overall cost is so low, none of these should have a big impact.

How much power does a light bulb need anyway?

Contrary to popular belief, modern light bulbs don't use much power. Here's how they compare to other appliances in your house:

AppliancePower consumption (yearly)Yearly cost
LED bulb8.8kWh (6 hours/day)$2.37
Incandescent bulb55kWh (6 hours/day)$14.85
Air conditioner396kWh$106.92

As you can see, light bulbs are one of the smallest contributors to your home power bill, even if you have a ton of LEDs.

What about Christmas lights on big displays?

Christmas lights don't cost much to run, but what about those huge inflatable decorations you place in your front yard?

For the most part, these won't consume more power since they use the same kind of bulbs as your Christmas lights.

However, there are some exceptions. A 2.5-meter tall inflatable Santa snowmobile we found uses around 24 watts for its lighting. It's still no cause for concern. Keeping that lit 24 hours a day would only cost you around $4.82 for the entire month, which is a tiny fraction of the purchase price.

How can I reduce my energy bill over the Christmas period?

Now that you know your lights aren't the culprit, here are more ways to shave down your power bill this month:

  • Set a reasonable aircon temperature. Each degree of extra cooling increases the power used by your aircon by about 10%. For example, raising the target temperature to 22 degrees from 20 degrees can cut 20% off your energy use and your power bill. That's a potential saving of $50 per year.
  • Strategic shading. Installing curtains or leaving the windows open on hot days can help reduce how long you run your aircon.
  • Insulation. Sealing gaps in doors or windows with filler or draught excluders and sealing gaps around skirting boards or air vents can help reduce the amount of hot air leaking into your house.
  • Upgrade your lights. If you happen to have any incandescent bulbs or high-energy halogen globes, replacing them with efficient LED versions can save you $10 or more per year per bulb.
  • Beware of overstocking. It can be easy to overstuff your fridge at holiday time, but too much food can clog your vents and drive up cooling costs. Consider carefully what food you'll use and stock accordingly.

Compare and switch energy providers

Perhaps the biggest difference you can make to your energy bill is by switching to a cheaper energy plan. Regardless of how much power you use, a cheaper plan will save you money.

You can get started with comparing plans now with Finder's online tool, and get switched to a new and better provider within 2 business days of applying.

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