I’m a big supporter of Christmas lights during the holidays and look forward to putting them up each year. Usually I’ll put them up right around Thanksgiving, when the holiday season really kicks off in my mind. I won’t discuss when people start putting them up (to each their own), but I do take issue with how long people leave them up for after the holidays are over.
To me, the holidays are over once the clock strikes 12:01am on December 26th. My wife feels the same way, so our lights and decorations usually come down on the 27th. I understand this is early for most people, who like to leave them up and lit through New Year’s Day. My family did that when I was growing up so I understand.
What I don’t understand are people that leave their holiday lights on well after the first of the year. During my morning run this morning at 5:30am, I noticed several houses that still have their outside decorations and lights up, and running! Let’s consider the facets of lunacy about this:
- It’s January 11th, well past the first of the year. I understand that some people like to hang on to the holiday cheer, but it’s time.
- Not only are you still running your lights and decorations on January 11th, it’s 5:30am and your decorations and lights are still running! Presumably, you’ve had them on either since the sun set the day before or never turned them off to begin with. Or you left them on because one morning you saw me running past and decided to share your holiday cheer with me (thanks neighbor!).
- You are wasting valuable electricity and money by not only running the lights past the first of the year, but running them well into the early hours of the morning.
Let’s calculate just how much money it costs to run those lights. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume I have 100 bulbs of outside lights. I currently use the LED lights, but actually have a soft spot for the old school incandescent bulbs (which some of my neighbors use). This is a relatively modest amount of holiday lights in my neighborhood and several houses have much more than that.
According to Duke Energy’s energy savings and efficiency website which has a nice calculator to show the cost of running holiday lights, it costs me $0.04 per day to run my 100 bulbs for 4 hours (I have a timer that turns on the lights at 5:30pm and off at 9:30pm). Assuming that I leave my lights up and on for approximately 35 days on average during the holiday season, those lights cost me a total of $1.40. If I decided to leave my lights on for another two weeks, it would cost me another $0.70.
Now let’s assume I leave my lights on for 50 days for 12 hours a day. That would cost me $5.80 for the season. 50 days for 24 hours a day: $11.61. If I was using the incandescent bulbs, the cost would be $84! This also doesn’t take into account those giant blow-up Santa and reindeer decorations that have become ubiquitous over the last few years.
If we extrapolate these numbers for those neighbors that really go all out (both outside and inside), these figures could increase well into the $100 range, which I consider a cost that bears attention.
By putting all of your lights (outside and inside) on timers, running them only a few hours a day, and at least turning them off after the season is over can save you money in long run.
As for the neighbor who left their lights up throughout the entire year, well that’s a different story.
I’m sure there’s also some who want to make sure they’re Keeping up with the Joneses.
When do you put your lights up and how long do you leave them up for? Are they on a timer? Let me know in the comments below!