A few weeks ago, my wife and stepson were going through our collection of holiday movies and we ended up watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. One of my favorite scenes in that movie is where Clark Griswold is standing in his front yard admiring his decorating handiwork. He must have spent days, maybe weeks, stringing all those light. He did such a beautiful job too but the moment he plugged those lights in the whole neighborhood went dark. That had to have been one heck of a power surge. If he had not blown all the fuses, can you even begin to imagine what his electric bill would have been for the season?
I have always been something of a Clark Griswold in the sense that I go all out when it comes to decorating my home for Christmas. We always have two trees, a six-footer indoors and twelve footer outdoors. The hedges, the trees and the exterior facade of our home outlined in glimmering lights. Unlike Clark, I distribute the lighting load over a number of branch circuits so I do not blow any fuses when I turn the power on. Like Griswold, I never thought much about energy my elaborate decorations were consuming; at least I did not start considering it until the cost of electrical energy started to skyrocket. In this article, I want to discuss some of those costs and offer way to reduce those costs.
How much energy does a string of convention Christmas tree lights consume? A single string of 50 conventional lights consumes 300 watts or 0.3 Kw (Kilowatts). With the national average energy cost at $0.0981 per KWh, 300 watts per string equates to $0.03 per hour. If that single string is lit for 5 hours a day for 30 days, it will cost you $4.50 for the season. Now multiply that by the total number of light string used, which, in my case was 35 strings, my seasonal energy cost was somewhere around $160.00. This year I am going to cut that expense by roughly 98 percent without cutting back on my decorating. Light Energy Designs has come to our rescue. They have designed a completely new kind of Christmas tree light strings and other illuminated tree decorations employing Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). A string of 50 LEDs consumes a mere 4 Watts. Running a single string of LED lights for the whole season would cost a mere $0.06 as opposed to $4.50 for a conventional string. With LED lights, it would be possible to connect up to 120 strings together and connect them to a single outlet without overloading the circuit. Another advantage of the LEDs is that they generate no heat so there is less chance that they will cause a fire. In the long run, LEDs will also save you money because they have a burn life of 10,000 hours, which equates to 11 years of use. The lamps do not break either because they have a solid epoxy lens instead of glass. Light Energy Designs also make animated decorations, rope lights, novelty lights, etc. using the same energy saving LED lights.
This year a single timer will control all my outdoor decorations. In the past, we have had a tendency to forget some of our outdoor lights and the ended up burning all night long, a definite waste of energy and money. However, this year, with the low power consumption of the LED lit decorations; I can hook them all into a single digital timer without overloading its circuitry. The one exception will be my Santa, sled, and a photo sensor switch will control reindeer, which set atop my enclosed porch, that one, because I want that one to burn all night long.