Decorate Your Home with Holiday Lighting without Busting Your Budget

Decorate for the Holidays Without Busting Your Budget and Electricity BillMany people this time of year look forward to seeing holiday lighting on houses in their neighborhood. Many homeowners enjoy getting into the holiday spirit by adorning their homes with holiday lighting decorations ranging from the modest to the … well, let’s just call them “exuberant.”

The problem is that holiday lighting can add a substantial amount onto your electric bill right when you’d prefer to be able to spend that money on gifts. Plus, if you live in Texas, you might have noticed the recent cold snap might tack a few more bucks onto your electric bill, too.

So, how do you decorate for the season without busting your budget and burning up all of your Yule log to keep warm?

It’s no secret that incandescent bulbs use a lot of electricity compared to LED bulbs. The same holds true for strings of mini holiday lights. Why? The reason is that all incandescent bulbs use 90% of their energy to produce heat. The average lifespan of an incandescent light bulb is 1,000 to 1,500 hours. In holiday display hours, that’s around 2 years that you’ll need to replace the set.

LEDs are semiconductors that use electroluminescence to convert almost 90% of the electricity into light with very little heat. They are coated in clear epoxy instead of glass. This way, they can last 5 to 10 years.

So, what’s the holiday-usage cost break down? Let’s compare two light sets made by GE.

One of their traditional incandescent consumer-grade products is the 100 light “String-A-Long” set. This set is rated at 40.8 watts and can be plugged end-to-end for a circuit load maximum of 216 watts. That’s 5 strings of lights. While very inexpensive at retail, a single string burning 40.8 watts for 8 hours/night for 30 nights at ¢10/kWh can add ¢97 in energy usage to your monthly bill. Ten strings will add $9.70 and it’s likely they might not make through their second year.

If you use a 100 light set of GE’s Energy Smart LED lights , you’re going to use only 8 watts. To reach that maximum circuit load of 216 watts, you could string 27 of these together.

Meanwhile, a single string burning 8 watts for 8 hours/night for 30 nights at ¢10/kWh adds only ¢19; a string of ten adds only $1.92. Plus, these probably will make it to their fifth year (and maybe beyond) saving you replacement costs. So, while LED sets are more expensive at retail you’ll be buying new light sets far less frequently.

Plus, not only are LED prices decreasing, but because their color and brightness can be controlled electronically (say via Bluetooth with an iPhone or iPad), LED lights will soon be offering us more energy savings and more holiday memories.

Do you have any tips for decorating your house with lights while not busting your electricity budget? Share with us in the comments, on Facebook, and/or on Twitter!