Outdoor inflatable yard decorations are popular. They range from a simple blow-up cartoon character to an 8-foot tall globe with rotating internal figures. Some even have re-circulated "snow" and lights.
A large, static snow globe consumes about 150 watts, while a rotating carousel consumes around 200 watts. For a 3-month season, 16 hours per day, the total electricity cost would be $22 - $30 for one of these inflatable yard displays.
That is on the assumption that folks will want to keep the display inflated during daylight hours, but not all night. If you keep it on 24 hours, a day the cost for three months would be in the $30 to $40 dollar range.
Strings of Lights Can Cost More
If you are using some of the old traditional colored lights, you will find that they use about 10 Watts per bulb. A 25-bulb string of these lights burning 150 hours a month (5 hours per day) would use 37.5 kWh a month (25 x 10 W x 150 hrs).
To calculate electricity cost, multiply your kWh usage per string by the number of strings. Then multiply by your rate. For example, a customer whose residential rate was $0.10 per kWh would pay $37.50 a month to operate 10 strings of these lights.
That is as much energy cost in one month as the big inflatable costs in three months!
Remember that is for 5 hours a day only. If you left them on 24 hours a day, the cost goes up and the bulbs burn out quicker.
Mini Lights Save Energy and Money
Miniature lights are now the standard for outside decorative lighting. The average miniature light uses 4 tenths of a Watt per bulb. One string of 100 miniature bulbs would only use 6 kWh per month (100 x 0.4 W x 150 hrs).
Ten sets of these lights operating five hours a day at $0.10 per kWh would cost $6.00 per month. If they were left on 24 hours a day, the energy cost would be $29 a month.
If you use the popular icicle lights, you know that a string of icicle lights with 100 bulbs will cover a much shorter distance than a straight string of miniature lights. They use the same amount of energy per bulb as the straight strings do.
LED Lights Save More Energy and Money in the Long Run
The new light emitting diode (LED) holiday lights use only 4 hunderedths of a Watt per bulb. That is 1/10 the amount of miniature bulbs. These bulbs are more durable, due to their solid-state construction, and safer, because they are difficult to break and run "cooler." Cooler means they are less of a fire risk.
Ten sets of 100 of these LED bulbs would cost $0.60 per month to operate five hours a day. That is under $3 a month if they are on 24 hours a day. A big energy cost savings.
Initially, LEDs cost about three times as much for the same string of bulbs as miniature lights. However, the lifetime cost of the LED Christmas lights is less than the mini lights. For some folks the energy savings makes the switch to LED’s right now worth the high upfront cost.
The Energy Boomer’s Recommendations
-My recommendation is to use the miniature lights that you have. When they burn out replace them with LED’s. If you are adding more lights or just starting out, I suggest that you get the LED’s.
-Try not to step on them while you are putting them up.
-I recommend that the old, 2 inch high or bigger, traditional colored light bulbs NOT be used. If you still have strings of them, they are likely getting old.
-As they age, the insulation on the wires may crack, causing a safety hazard. These old hot running lights are also more of a fire hazard when next to dry pine needles.
-Use an outdoor appliance timer to control your decorations. That way you will not forget to switch them off to save energy. Make sure that the timer has a 15-amp capacity.
-If your lights and inflatable decorations are going to be used outdoors, make sure that all the light strings and power cords are labeled for outdoor use.
Please have your lights on so I can see them during my before dawn drive to work. I need a cheerful boost to start my day.