Christmas lights on a red background with a red wallet

Do Christmas lights cost much to run?

People often wonder whether LED or traditional bulbs are best.

Christmas trees have already begun popping up in houses across the country, but if - like many - you wait until after the 8th of December to decorate, it could be something you’re facing into this weekend.

One of the most dreaded aspects of Christmas decorating is no doubt untangling the fairy lights and - if you still use traditional bulbs - plugging them in to see if they’re still working. But have you ever thought about the cost of these extra lights being on for a month?

How much do traditional fairy lights cost?

Like normal light bulbs, traditional fairy lights will cost more to run than their LED counterparts.

As an example, a string of 100 fairy lights will probably have a wattage of about 40w. In Ireland, we use kilo-watt hours to calculate electricity cost, and 40w equates to 0.04kW/h.

So, say you turn on your lights for 6 hours per day for 28 days over the Christmas season:

6 x 28 x 0.04kW/h = 6.72kw/h

An Irish consumer on a typical standard tariff would pay €0.1717 per kW/h of electricity used (including VAT).

€0.1717 x 6.72 = €1.15

So this string of 100 lights would cost you approx. €1.15 to run for the festive season. This will change slightly depending on the unit rate you pay.

How much do LED fairy lights cost?

Generally, LED fairy lights use about 10% of the electricity that traditional lights do - a string of 100 LED lights will probably have a wattage of around 5.

Over the same period of time, these will cost you just €0.15 to run - a fraction of the cost of the more traditional lights.

I have loads of lights in my house - will it cost me a fortune?

Actually, running Christmas lights probably doesn’t cost as much as you think it would, especially if you opt for LED.

However, if you want to figure how much you’re likely to spend, take a look at the wattage of the lights - this is normally on the tag beside the plug - and use the above examples to get a guideline of how much various wattages cost to run.

Don’t forget to include the cost of any batteries you use in battery-powered lights, too.

What do I need to think about when setting up my Christmas lights?

Firstly, if you’re buying new lights, you’ll need to think about whether you want to opt for the traditional or LED ones. There are loads of options available, and prices vary hugely between shops, so make sure you shop around to get the best value - and, remember, the LED ones are much cheaper to run.

Many lights now come with an automatic timer function - when you plug them in, they stay on for 6 hours, before turning off for 18 and then back on again at the same time the next day. This is a handy feature to watch out for if you’re shopping for lights.

If your lights don’t have this function, using a timed plug is a really cost-effective way to control how long you leave them on for. They are relatively inexpensive - around €5 each - and you can decide exactly when you want them on. Not only will doing this save energy, it will also help to ensure your Christmas lights are not accidentally left on.

While you’re at it, putting other lamps on timer is a good way to ensure your house is well-lit at all times, which is great from a security perspective.

Save on your energy

There are generally a lot more expenses at Christmas, so cutting back wherever possible will be a big help. Switching energy supplier is quick and easy and can save you up to €378 - or even more if you have a large, busy household. Some suppliers - such as Bord Gáis Energy, Electric Ireland and SSE Airtricity offer cashback on some plans, too, which could come in handy at this time of year.

You can also save money by implementing some energy-saving measures in the home.

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Reducing the Christmas light issues next year

By the time you’re taking down the tree, the last thing you want to do is spend ages sorting everything out. But a few minutes’ work at that stage could save you a lot of hassle next year.

Taking some time to wind your lights around a piece of cardboard - you can cut slits in the edges to hold the wires in - rather than bundling them up and putting them in a box. You’ll thank yourself when Christmas 2018 rolls around!