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How much do all those Christmas lights cost to run?



All I want for Christmas is a lower energy bill.

It's a grand tradition: going for a walk somewhere over the Christmas period to find that local street where all the neighbours are trying to outdo each other with over-the-top lighting and garish decorations. It's great fun, but it also raises the question: just how much extra are we all paying on our electricity bills for that ostentatious display?

Brace yourselves: the collective cost of running special Christmas lights over four weeks is in the order of $163 million, finder research shows.

Australians, it turns out, are keen light deployers. A recent survey shows that 69% of us decorate for Christmas, and 11% of households go all out. That means over a million households are deploying both indoor and outdoor lighting. These are our decorating preferences:

If you assume that the "all out" households are deploying 2,500 bulbs and are paying around 32 cents per kilowatt hour, they'll each end up spending $69 on electricity for those bulbs. That's likely to be a fraction of the cost of the actual decorations, but it's still a concern given that power prices have risen by 63% over the last decade.

That said (and to avoid going full-scale Grinch), the biggest energy wastage risk over the holiday season remains leaving the air conditioning on all the time. The same survey found that 23% of us deliberately leave the air conditioning on when we're not home. That will add up to around $578 over summer – a massive waste of money and, frankly, an unnecessary act of vandalism towards the environment. Wasting electricity to stay cool is not cool.

That said: Merry Christmas!

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on

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Picture: Kritsana_H/Shutterstock

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