Saving energy on your Christmas lights is easier than ever, and is a great way to lower your holiday electricity bill and help the environment. Christmas lights may only be used once a year, but they’re often left out for weeks, or months, to create a festive atmosphere through the holiday season and beyond. We explain the best way to choose energy efficient Christmas lights, and cover a few tips that cut down your energy use even further.
Choose Christmas lights with energy efficient lightbulbs
Christmas lights are generally made with one of two kinds of bulbs – LED bulbs and incandescent bulbs. It’s now unusual to see incandescent lights for purchase in Australia, but if you buy or reuse older Christmas lights, or buy Christmas lights from overseas, they may still have incandescent lightbulbs.
Incandescent lightbulbs create light by heating a filament wire. This means almost all the energy used by these lights is converted to heat, rather than light. This is not only energy inefficient, but it can also be a risk for fires.
In contrast, LED lights work by connecting a positive and negative current through a semiconductor to create light. They don’t produce as much heat, and they last far longer than incandescent lightbulbs.
Are LED Christmas lights more energy efficient?
LED Christmas lights are significantly more efficient than incandescent lights. Incandescent lights can take 80-90% more watts to power than LED lights, consuming far more electricity
For example, powering 1000 incandescent mini-lights takes approximately 408 watts, while powering the same number of LED mini-lights takes approximately 69 watts. Larger lights can produce an even greater difference in wattage.
So, if you’re looking to save on electricity costs and support the environment this Christmas, it might be time to trade your old incandescent lights for new LED alternatives.
Choose solar or rechargable Christmas lights
Christmas lights are powered by one of three options – wiring to the outlet, batteries, or solar energy.
Wiring to your electrical outlet is the only one of these options that will add to your electricity bill, and it can be cumbersome to find a way to connect all of your Christmas lights to an electrical socket in your house. However, lights that consume a large amount of disposable batteries aren’t good for the environment either.
Rechargeable batteries can be a good choice, allowing you to power up the same batteries for repeated use. Some lights come with their own rechargeable battery, but for lights that take standard battery types, you may need to purchase a rechargeable option.
Finally, solar powered lights are the most energy efficient as they absorb sunlight during the day to charge their own batteries. This means that when considering solar lights vs wired lights, or solar lights vs rechargeable batteries, solar lights will be more environmentally friendly. However they have an obvious downside – they need to be placed in an area where they can effectively absorb the sunlight. In general, high quality solar lights will have better photovoltaic cells, and absorb sunlight more efficiently, as well as shining more brightly.
Tips for saving energy on your Christmas lights
Once you’ve chosen your lights, there are a few things you can do to decrease your energy use even further. These simple tips can have a big impact.
Tip 1: Turn off your lights when you don’t need them
It seems obvious to say you can save electricity by turning off your lights, but it can be a surprise how many people forget this simple tip. If you think you may forget to turn off your lights, you can use an automatic timer that will turn them off at certain times, or after a certain number of hours.
Tip 2: Use mirrors and reflective decorations to increase light
Make fewer Christmas lights go further by using strategically placed mirrors, and reflective decorations such as tinsel and baubles, to add a lot more brightness.
Tip 3: Turn off unused lights in your house at night
To make your Christmas lights really shine at night, turn off unused lights in other rooms in your house. This will not only save electricity, but will make your decorations seem brighter.
Tip 4: Use a quality power board
Avoid using power boards that are too old, or that may be damaged. Not only do these create safety risks, they may also be unable to regulate electrical currents as well as newer power boards, wasting electricity.
Platinum electricians, Light Globes: Know the difference between LED, CFL, and Halogen, viewed November 2019, https://www.platinumelectricians.com.au/blog/light-globes-know-difference-led-cfl-halogen/ Christmas Lights Etc, Christmas Light Wattage, viewed November 2019, https://www.christmaslightsetc.com/pages/how-many-watts-amps-do-christmas-lights-use.htm Laura Gaskill, How to choose the right solar lights, Forbes, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/houzz/2014/06/02/how-to-choose-the-right-solar-lights/#34a79b337a1f
Information provided in this article is designed to be a guide only and was believed to be correct at time of publiation. Please consider your own personal circumstances when reading the information contained within the article.