how much electricity does christmas lights use

How Much Electricity Does Christmas Lights Use?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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With the Christmas season approaching, you may be considering spreading the holiday cheer using Christmas lights for your home decorations. In light of the rising cost of living in the country, you may also be wondering, ‘Just how much electricity does Christmas lights use?’ We have the answer for you.

In this article, we shed light on the electricity consumption of different Christmas lights to help you make the best decision for the festivities and your wallet.

Factors That Contribute to Variations in Energy Consumption Among the Different Types of Christmas Lights

1. Bulb Type and Wattage

Bulb Type and Wattage

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The type of bulb you choose to illuminate your Christmas tree, house, or street will determine your power usage at the end of the season. Incandescent bulbs consume more energy compared to LED or fiber optic bulbs. On the other hand, solar-powered bulbs do not require electricity to illuminate your home and thus have no effect on your electric bill.

The wattage of your bulb also plays a big role in determining how much electricity you’ll have consumed at the end of the festive season. Bulbs with a high wattage usually consume more electricity than low-wattage bulbs. The wattage of your Christmas lights is usually indicated on the packaging box and small tags on the lights’ strands.

2. Number of Bulbs in the Set and Duration of Use

The more bulbs on one strand of lights, the higher the energy consumption. Additionally, the longer your lights run, the more energy they consume.

3. Additional Features and Effects on Lights

Some lights, for example, fiber optic lights, come with additional features like flashing or color change effects. These features may require more electricity to run compared to static lights.

How to Calculate Your Christmas Lights Electricity Consumption

I. Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs come in two types, i.e., mini incandescent bulbs and C7 and C9 Incandescent bulbs. Here is a brief review of the consumption rate for each bulb type.

1. Mini incandescent bulbs

Mini Incandescent Bulbs

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These bulbs come in sets of 50 or 100 lights on a string and are mostly used in Christmas tree decorations. Each bulb consumes about 0.4 to 0.5 watts of power. As such, a typical strand of 50 bulbs uses about 20 to 25 watts, while a set of 100 consumes about 40-50 watts.

2. C7 and C9 Incandescent Bulbs

Difference between C7 and C9 Incandescent Bulbs

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These bulbs are larger than the mini lights and come in sets of 25 per string. C7 bulbs have a wattage of 5 or 7, compared to C9 bulbs’ wattage of 7 to 10. Therefore, a set of C7 lights may consume about 125 or 175 watts of electricity, while C9 incandescent bulbs consume about 175 or 250 watts. These lights are best suited for outdoor decorations.

II. LED Lights

1. Mini LED Lights

Mini LED Lights

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These lights come in sets of 50 to 100 bulbs, each consuming about 0.04 to 0.06 watts of power. A set of 50 may consume about 2 to 3 watts of power, while a set of 100 consumes about 4 to 6 watts.

2. C7 and C9 LED Lights

C7 and C9 LED Lights

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These LED lights are bigger than mini lights and are most suited for outdoor Christmas light displays. C7 LED lights consume about 0.5 to 1 watts each, while C9 LED bulbs consume about 1 to 1.5 watts each. A set of 25 C7 LED Christmas lights may consume about 12.5 to 25 watts, while a similar set of C9 LED lights consumes about 25 to 37.5 watts.

When calculating how much electricity your Christmas lights use, follow these steps:

  • Consider the number of strings/strands needed to complete your decoration.
  • Consider how many hours you intend to have the lights running.
  • Multiply the total wattage of your strands by the number of hours the lights run, then divide the total number by 1,000 to get the kilowatts (kWh) you use daily.
  • Multiply the total kWh with your power usage cost indicated on your bill to get your daily cost.
  • Multiply your daily cost by the days you intend to have the lights on to get the total cost to expect on your energy bill by the end of the festive season.

Tips for Reducing the Energy Usage of Christmas Lights

You can still use festive lights to decorate your Christmas tree, house, or street and save money. Here are a few cost-saving tips to consider when choosing the lights:

1. Opt for Energy-Efficient Lights

Whether buying Christmas lights for the first time or wanting to change the ones you had last holiday, opt for lights with a lower wattage and longer lifespan. A good example of energy-efficient lights is LED lights, which have a lower wattage than incandescent ones. Although more expensive at purchase, these lights make up for the high cost in low electricity consumption and durability.

2. Select the Right Light For Your Decoration

Consider the space or object you wish to decorate using before buying the lights. If you wish to decorate a Christmas tree, for example, you can opt for mini lights with lower wattage over C7 and C9 bulbs which have higher wattage and are ideal for outdoor displays.

3. Reduce the Number of Lights

Opt for a minimalistic approach in your choice of holiday lights and decor. Using fewer strings or bulbs can still create a beautiful display and help you reduce your Christmas lights cost and electric bill.

4. Limit Lighting Hours

Be mindful of how long your lights run. You can have them running in the hours your family and neighborhood appreciate the illumination most, then turn them off the rest of the day. You can use timers and smart controls to automatically turn the lights off at specific hours, like late at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are LED Christmas Lights More Energy Efficient than Traditional Incandescent Lights?

LED Christmas Lights

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Absolutely. Research shows that LED bulbs have a 75% less energy consumption rate than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs have a filament that heat gets heated by electric current to produce light. Most energy from the power source gets wasted in heating the filament.

On the other hand, LED lights have a semiconductor that directly emits light when an electric current passes through it. LEDs bypass the heating process and use less energy than incandescent bulbs.

2. Do Outdoor Lights Consume More Electricity than Indoor Lights?

Outdoor Christmas Lights

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Yes, outdoor lights consume more electricity than indoor ones. Most outdoor Christmas lights are larger than indoor lights and can withstand different weather conditions. As such, these lights have bulbs with a higher wattage and have additional features such as flashing or color-change settings, which adds to their energy consumption rate.

3. Do Dimmers and Timers Reduce the Christmas Lights Electricity Costs

Light Dimmer Switch

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Yes. If you use incandescent lights, having a dimmer can help reduce their electricity consumption. Dimmer switches have an inbuilt resistor that alters the voltage of the electricity supplied to your bulbs. These dimmer switches have a knob or liner tab that allows you to vary the voltage between minimum and maximum levels when selecting the bulb’s brightness.

In incandescent Christmas lights, the brightness is directly proportional to the power it receives from the source. As such, the lower the bulb’s brightness, the less energy it draws from the power source. A timer helps you set how long the lights run and avoid needless electricity consumption at night or when you are away.

4. Do Colored Lights Consume More Electricity Than White Bulbs?

No, the bulb’s color is not a determinant of its electricity consumption. The power consumption of a bulb depends on its technology and wattage. The color difference results from filters that reflect light in the bulb, and these filters do not consume electricity.

5. How do Solar-Powered Lights Compare to LED Lights in Terms of Energy Consumption?

Solar-powered Christmas Lights

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Solar-powered Christmas lights harness energy from the sun, unlike other lights that draw power from the grid. While they may cost more than LED lights at purchase, you will have no additional costs on your electric bill if you opt for solar powered-lights. Using solar-powered lights also reduces your carbon footprint during the holiday season.


While greatly contributing to the beauty and merriment of the December holidays, Christmas lights may also be responsible for the sudden hike in your energy bill. However, you can enjoy the sparkling allure of the Christmas season and save on your energy bill by choosing energy-efficient lights for your decorations. Switch to energy-saving Christmas lights and enjoy a bright, worry-free holiday lighting season.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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