Urgent Alert

The cost of holiday lights

Date: November 14, 2023

Holiday lights are one of the most visible aspects of the season. Have you ever wondered how much that colorful display adds to your energy bill each year? There are a number of lighting technologies available. Comparing their operating costs can help you decide which option is best for decorating your facility.


Holiday lighting options


Three lighting types commonly used in holiday displays include C-bulbs, miniature lights and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).


  • C-bulbs. These traditional incandescent bulbs are bright and highly visible. C7 and C9 types are available. C9 bulbs are larger and draw slightly more power.
  • Miniature (mini) lights. Mini lights use far less energy than C-bulbs and have become very popular. The main advantages of mini lights are their low energy use and low cost, although they're not very durable.
  • LEDs. LEDs are long lasting and highly energy efficient. Made from solid-state materials, these bulbs are safer and more durable than C-bulbs and miniature lights. Despite their advantages, LED lights are more expensive to purchase, although their price has come down in recent years.


Comparing energy costs


How much does each lighting option cost to operate? The following table compares the power draw (in wattage) and the monthly operating cost of a typical display. These calculations are based on an average running time of five hours per day at an electric rate of 19 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Due to their energy efficiency, durability and other benefits, LEDs are quickly becoming the decorating option of choice.

Holiday lighting energy costs

TypeWattageMonthly operating costs

C7 and C9

5 and 7

$487 to $684

Mini lights






*For a lighting display using 100 strings of bulbs at 26 cents per kWh, the current average electric rate in California, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (July 2023). C-bulbs come in strings of 25 lights, while mini lights and LEDs have 100 bulbs per string.


Due to their energy efficiency, durability and other benefits, LEDs are quickly becoming the decorating option of choice.


Planning ahead for savings


While energy-efficient lighting provides a great alternative, planning and conservation can optimize savings. There's no need to light up your entire facility and grounds. A lighting design that makes good use of available space and includes a mix of colors will draw attention. Also, a 24-hour display isn't necessary. Turn off lights late at night. Timers can automate this process and maximize energy savings. With a little forethought, your holiday display can make your facility shine without a big increase in energy costs.


(Source: Questline, Inc.)

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