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U.S. Christmas Lights Could Illuminate Other Nations for a Year

December 24, 2015 By Cheryl Kaften

When Christmas lights are shining nationwide, retail customers also are burning a big hole in their pockets, according to a blog posted on ElectricChoice.com, an electricity marketplace that serves retail customers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, and Illinois

The site has calculated that Americans use a lot of electricity for Christmas. In fact, some states use more electricity for Christmas than other countries do — all year long.

Looking at the average household, by type of decorations:

  • Christmas tree lights: Most Christmas trees and Channukah bushes require about 10 strands of 100 mini lights each, at 45 watts per strand. Using 450 watts for a typical seven hours a day for 45 days at $0.12 per kilowatt hour (kWh) comes to just over $17 on the tree, alone.
  • Outdoor string lights: The usual string of 100 outdoor bulbs uses 500 watts of energy. About 20 such strands are needed to cover a traditional two story home – at 10,000 watts, seven hours a night for 45 days at $0.12 per kWh – for a total of $378.
  • Outdoor tree lights: The average 20-foot outdoor tree requires 20,000 lights. C9 multicolored outdoor Christmas lights consume about 175 watts per strand of 25 lights. If you have 80 strands of these to cover your trees, that is about 14,000 watts of energy per tree – or $529 for two trees (seven hours a night for 45 days). .
  • Christmas decorations/accessories requiring electricity: We’re talking about light-up decorations that come in all different types of shapes and sizes, from reindeers to, Santas, and snowmen. The average one of these decorations uses about 120 watts. So if you have a pair of light-up holiday animals, you are only looking at about 140 watts of energy – or $9.
  • Icicle lights: Strands of icicle lights comprise about 95 bulbs and consume about 6,056 watts of energy. If you want to line your gutters with three strands of these lights, you are looking at about $687.

This means if a homeowner went all out and lit his or her entire house for the holiday season, the bottom line would be $1,620. That comes down to an extra $36 per day on electricity costs.

On an individual level, many Americans are spending dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of extra dollars every year to decorate with Christmas lights, so in total how much is this holiday tradition costing the United States as a country?

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 90 percent of Americans – or 105 million households – celebrate Christmas. If every home decorated with lights this holiday season, it would cost the country $3.8 billion per day and $170 billion for the whole 45-day holiday season.   This means that the United States has the capacity to use more than double the amount of electricity that Ecuador and Cuba use together in a single year. Americans also have the capacity to use just as much energy on Christmas lights as the country of Belarus.

Let’s break this down by comparing some states, assuming once again that 90 percent of Americans will be celebrating Christmas:

Ohio uses54 million MW over the holiday season – or, about the same as the entire country of Iraq requires for an entire year.

Pennsylvania uses 68 million MW over the holiday season, or only slightly less energy than the entire United Arab Emirates consumes annually.

Texas uses 127 million MW, or nearly the exact same amount of electricity Indonesia uses in an entire year.

Illinois uses 65 million MW, or about what Australia needs annually.

New Jersey uses 44 million MW, or about the same amount Hong Kong uses in 12 months.

New York uses 100 million MW, or just slightly less than Vietnam consumes over an entire year.

“We also haven’t even taken into consideration public and business displays of Christmas lights and decorations — churches, zoos, parks, city squares, main streets — you name it,” the authors of the blog said. “Regardless, America uses a lot of electricity to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season.”

2 comments on “U.S. Christmas Lights Could Illuminate Other Nations for a Year

  1. Unless your one of those that cases that likes the way of their house purely to show off AND make sure all your Christmas lights are LED, your bill should not be so high so as to prevent you from celebrating a few short weeks out of the year.

  2. Both the ElectricChoice.com blogger and the author of this article should be embarrassed for trying to pass this off as anything other than a work of ignorant fantasy. An apology should be issued to the readers for lack of editorial oversight.

    The supposition is that 42,690 Watts are being used for Christmas lights at a single household. This would require 30 dedicated (15A, de-rated) circuits from the circuit breaker panel! A typical home has either 100A or 200A service amperage, yet we are to believe that 355A are being used for decorations alone.

    Further, if you don’t know the difference between Power (W) and Energy (W-h), then you probably should not publish articles citing these metrics.

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