“Do LED Christmas lights really save me that much money?”
I am not the first to write on this topic, but its been asked of me too. I think because there is no “one” answer to this question. Like with any energy efficiency project there are a lot of variables. For example you can put in a new low E triple pane window, but if you like fresh air and have it wide open all the time. It sort of defeats the purpose.
The variables here are:
Are you a pre-thanksgiving Christmas’er or post. Are your lights on a timer? Do you like your lights on all night? Is your electric bill high normally? What is your rate per Kwatt from the electric utility? Do you like the small twinkly lights or the big C9s? Are you a 2 strand Christmas lighter or Clark Giswold?
With the average of all these variables, my vast knowledge of useless facts, Ohms Law, and my iPhone calculator. I have determined that on average you will save….wait for it……..wait for it….. $4.50 per strand of lights per Christmas season. With the average LED strand costing $10.00 or more than the standard incandescent version. It will take at least two trips of the fat man in the red coat to break even. After that, its money in the bank or better gifts for your kids.
The biggest plus for LED Christmas lights using less energy, is the fact that you can plug more lights into each other without overloading circuits. For example my house was wired back in the early 80s, and they did a horrible job. My Christmas light plug is on the same 15 amp circuit as the living room, two bedrooms, dryer, and laundry lights. Before going LED it was 50/50 chance if you could dry clothes when the Christmas lights were on. Then there is the long life of LED, but that is not a major selling point to me (when talking about LED holiday lights). Christmas lights are temporary, not like a lights that gets used everyday all year. You typically put them up and take them down in 30 days. So the usage and maintenance savings is not there. Also just cause the bulb will last forever, does not mean the cord will. I am sure we have all had those years where we say “Next weekend I will take down the lights. Next weekend for sure. Super Bowl or not, I am doing it this weekend. Well its July, no use taking them down to put them right back up” The plastics will eventually get bleached and brittle with the spring and summer sun. The other issue I have with the long life selling point, is the damage they might get when taking them down and packing them up. A broken bulb or frayed cord after the first year of use, and in the trash they go. What also worries me about LED holiday lights is that they do not run as hot, and the false sense of safety that comes with that. With all electrical components there is still a fire hazard. Be careful with either style of Christmas lights you use.
“So what do I do?”
There is something about the deep rich glow of an incandescent Christmas light that I really like. Of course the sharp bright light of LEDs are cool too. For the average person, there is not a huge savings, switching to LED holiday lights. If you like the look of LEDs, I suggest to start phasing out your incandescent. Picking up and replacing a few strands at a time, but only during the holiday 50-90% off sales. The lower the purchase cost the better pay back you will get, but I advise staying away from the ultra bargain bin lights. You still need to get a handful of years out of them, the super cheap-o ones seem to not be constructed as well.
Basically on average Christmas lights will not make or break the bank in electric cost. Its mainly about the look you like, and remembering what the holiday season is truly about.