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How Holiday Decorations Affect Your Energy Bill

If you take a look at your energy use over the last 12 months you may notice an uptick in the utility bill during December. Is it the extra illumination that’s needed because the sun is setting earlier? Possibly. Is it the heater that’s now running all day? That probably has a little something to do with it.

Or it could be that festive display of holiday lights.

It turns out that people love lighting up the block during the holidays. There are so many homes lit up during Christmastime NASA satellites have picked up increased light concentrations from outer space. In the suburbs, light intensity increases by as much as 50%.

You may not plan to cover every square inch of your home in lights like Clark Griswald, but every strand of lights you use in your holiday display will add to your energy bill. The question is just how much.

Calculating the Cost of Holiday Lights

How much a holiday display will cost to illuminate comes down to a few key factors:

  • Your kilowatt-hour rate
  • How many lights are in the display
  • The types of lights that are used
  • How long you keep the display on per day

At a minimum, a single strand of lights will use 2.2 watts of electricity an hour, but it could be as much as 175 watts. And electricity rates vary from provider to provider. All the more reason to compare energy plans to make sure you’re getting a good rate.

You can figure out the cost of holiday lights by using this equation:

(# of watts/1,000) X (# of hours) X (# of days) X (per kilowatt-hour rate) X (# of strands used) = Total Estimated Cost

Calculating the Cost of Inflatables

Inflatables are now part of many people’s holiday decorations because they are easy to set up, tons of fun and some can be seen both day and night. They also use a lot more energy than a strand of lights. The electricity use is generally anywhere between 50-200 watts an hour. Are you going all out with a fancy animated inflatable? It could use up to 600 watts to operate.

Use this calculation to figure out the cost of holiday inflatables:

(# of watts/1,000) X (# of hours) X (# of days) X (per kilowatt-hour rate) = Total Estimated Cost

Keep Energy Bills in Check Without Being a Scrooge

We’re sure Ebenezer Scrooge would never have put up a holiday display in order to save a few pennies. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between getting into the holiday spirit and keeping electricity costs in check. Use the tips below to make your holiday display more energy efficient this year.

Opt for LED Lights

If you’ve already started making the switch to LED bulbs inside your home, then you probably already know how much more efficient they are compared to standard incandescent bulbs. The same goes for holiday lights:

A string of 100 mini incandescent lights uses about 40 watts an hour
A string of 100 mini LED lights uses less than 5 watts an hour
A string of 25 traditional C7 lights uses 125 watts an hour
A string of 25 LED C7 lights uses 2.2 watts an hour
A string of 25 traditional C9 lights uses 175 watts an hour
A string of 25 LED C9 lights uses 2.4 watts an hour

No matter what your electricity rate is, you’re going to save a lot of money during the holidays by opting for LED lights. The LED lights are also going to last at least 10 times longer than incandescent lights. You’ll save money this holiday season and for many more to come.

Put Holiday Lights on a Timer

Using a timer is an easy way to cut down on holiday display energy waste. Realistically, not many people are going to be out after 10pm looking at Christmas lights. You can use an inexpensive timer to turn the lights on at sunset and shut the lights down at a reasonable hour in the evening. You won’t have to manually turn them on and off every day, and you’ll save kilowatt-hours.

Use Extension Cords Strategically

Are you using extra light strands just to reach an outlet? If so, an extension cord could be a better option since they’re discreet and don’t use electricity.

The holiday season is the perfect time to make a switch to a more reliable electricity supplier. Spark Energy has been offering electricity and gas energy plans for more than 20 years. We serve markets in 14 states from New York to California. Check out the latest home energy plans online or give us a call to learn how easy it is to make the switch.

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