‘Watts up’ with your holiday lights?

The weather outside may be frightful, but your energy bill doesn’t have to be, if you use energy efficient holiday lights.

Whether you deck the halls inside or out, whether you use light strands to trim the tree or your house, here are some tidbits from Western’s Energy Services staff about the energy you’re using, as well as the safety aspect of decorating your home.

The following chart provides a breakdown of how much eary is consumed by different types of light bulbs. You can adjust the assumed energy price per kWh to more accurately reflect your local energy costs.

Did you know?

  • An extension cord that is too small can overheat and start a fire, without tripping the breaker.
  • A florescent flood light won’t work well when it’s below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and it may not work at all when the temperature dips below zero.
  • A string of 70 holiday lights can use as much as 350 watts, or the equivalent of two-and-a-half, three-way lamps.

Reduce holiday lighting energy use

Take safety and energy-efficient precautions when putting your lights up. “And if you’ve already put your lights up, take a look to make sure you put them up safely, so you don’t start a fire,” said Energy Services RepresentativeGary Hoffmann.

For starters, check the size of your extension cords and make sure they’re labeled with the amount of current they can carry. “When you get a new extension cord, use an indelible marker to label it with the capacity,” suggested Hoffmann. “That way if the label falls off, you still know what the capacity is.”

Also, remember not to string more than three light strands together outside because it could overload your extension cord or light strand and start a fire. “Generally, three 35-bulb cords of regular holiday lights may be connected on one extension cord,” explained Hoffmann. “But if you use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, you may use 12 strings of 70 bulbs per string and still be O.K.”

While LED lights may cost more initially, the energy costs they will save add up. “A string of LED lights use as little as two watts, where as a night light uses four watts,” added Hoffmann. “So they cost only about three cents to operate when used about five hours a day during the holiday season.

Energy Services shared these additional facts about LED holiday lighting options:

Safety—no chance of combustion, since the bulbs are cool to the touch, regardless of how long they are left on.

Sturdy bulbs—the epoxy lenses are virtually indestructible. These lights have a different appearance from familiar incandescent models, appearing to shimmer with movement as the light passes through the faceted bulbs.

LED bulbs don’t emit the same amount of light as incandescent lamps, although some new models on the market are closer to the brightness of incandescent. “Even so, LED lights can be used for beautiful and affordable holiday decorating,” said Hoffmann.

For more information, download Energy Services’ Holiday Lighting fact sheet.