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Light up your tree without lighting up your electricity bill!

Reviewed by General Manager of Utilities and Energy Expert, Brett Mifsud
6 min read
9 Dec 2021
House with Christmas lights

Your house may look a million dollars covered in lights, but how much does it really cost to power your home at Christmas?

A Compare the Market investigation found that despite the misconception of Christmas lights driving up energy bills, they have very little impact on what you end up paying.

Depending on your electricity plan, the type of lights you have and how many are in your display, the impact on your electricity bill could be as little as a few cents per night or a few dollars for the month of December.

Meanwhile, the upfront cost of purchasing Christmas lights and Christmas light decorations from Australia’s five major department stores ranges from $2 to $319.*

It’s typically other factors at play during the holiday period that increase electricity bills, such as using air conditioners, cooking Christmas feasts, overfilling your fridge, running a spare fridge to keep drinks and food cool or entertaining the kids with more screen time during the school holidays.

*Data was collected from Kmart, Big W, Target, Myer and David Jones’ online websites on 24/11/2021. Prices are accurate at time data was gathered.

Solar vs LED lights – which is cheaper for my electricity bill?

Solar Christmas lights (which are powered entirely from electricity generated from the sun) will be the best for your electricity bill. You don’t need to connect solar lights to your main power supply, so they’re not linked to your bill.

However, Compare the Market’s Energy Expert and General Manager of Utilities, Brett Mifsud, says solar options won’t be the best option for all households.

“It’s important to note that solar lights do rely on sunlight to work, so position the panels in sunny areas to maximise sunlight intake,” Mr Mifsud says. “Avoiding full or partial shade will ensure your lights shine bright at night.”

Even if you do opt for LED Christmas lights, Mr Mifsud says they may not increase your electricity bill as much as you’d think.

“Christmas lights have come a long way in the past decade and LED Christmas lights use a lot less power than incandescent Christmas lights you may have used in the past,” Mr Mifsud explains.

“Depending on how big your display is, LED lights shouldn’t have a huge impact on your bill.”

Australia began phasing out incandescent lights in 2009, meaning most incandescent lights can no longer be sold in Australia or imported here.1 If you still have incandescent Christmas lights or decorations, you could save on electricity costs this Christmas season by replacing them with energy-efficient lights.

According to Energy Rating Australia, old incandescent lights can waste up to 90% of energy, which can drive up your electricity bill.1

Compare the Market meerkats with Christmas lights

The cost to power LED Christmas lights around Australia

While we know it costs less to run LED Christmas lights than incandescent lights that we used in the past, the exact impact on your electricity bill will vary, based on:

  • The type of Christmas lights
  • How many lights you display
  • The wattage of the lights
  • How long you leave the lights on for
  • Where you live in Australia
  • Your electricity plan and tariff

We selected five different sets of Christmas lights available in Australia with varying wattage to give us an idea of potential running costs. We’ve also used data from the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to help guide the cost of electricity (cents per kilowatt-hour) in various Australian states. For our analysis, we’ve assumed that Christmas lights will run for four hours per night.

The following information is a guide only and actual costs will vary based on your circumstances. Check your electricity bill for actual usage costs. From the states we analysed, we found that it costs Queensland households less to run Christmas lights, while it costs the most for South Australians.

Please note: Actual wattage can vary between brands and the number of lights included. Our analysis looked how the cost to run Anko’s low voltage 20 colour changing starburst lights, Lenoxx’s outdoor/indoor 100 LED Christmas decoration lights, Anko’s low voltage 250 LED warm white string lights and Mirabella’s Christmas low voltage 500 LED string lights.

New South Wales

Number of lightsKWCost per hourCost per nightCost for month of Dec
200.001$0.04$0.15$4.66
1000.003$0.09$0.38$11.72
2500.004$0.10$0.40$12.41
5000.006$0.17$0.67$20.69

Average c/kWh for power on market offers in NSW in 2021/22 is 27.81 cents. Source: AEMC

Victoria

Number of lightsKWCost per hourCost per nightCost for month of Dec
200.001$0.03$0.13$3.96
1000.003$0.08$0.32$9.98
2500.004$0.09$0.34$10.57
5000.006$0.14$0.57$17.62

Average c/kWh for power on market offers in VIC in 2021/22 is 23.68 cents. Source: AEMC

Queensland

Number of lightsKWCost per hourCost per nightCost for month of Dec
200.001$0.03$0.12$3.57
1000.003$0.07$0.29$8.98
2500.004$0.08$0.31$9.51
5000.006$0.13$0.51$15.85

Average c/kWh for power on market offers in QLD in 2021/22 is 21.30 cents. Source: AEMC

South Australia

Number of lightsKWCost per hourCost per nightCost for month of Dec
200.001$0.044$0.18$5.43
1000.003$0.110$0.44$13.67
2500.004$0.117$0.47$14.47
5000.006$0.195$0.78$24.12

Average c/kWh for power on market offers in SA in 2021/22 is 32.42 cents. Source: AEMC

Australian Capital Territory

Number of lightsKWCost per hourCost per nightCost for month of Dec
200.001$0.036$0.14$4.41
1000.003$0.089$0.36$11.10
2500.004$0.095$0.38$11.75
5000.006$0.158$0.63$19.58

Average c/kWh for power on standing offers in ACT in 2021/22 is 26.32 cents. Source: AEMC

Man putting Christmas lights up

Mr Mifsud’s top tips for Christmas light safety

  1. Turn off lights you’re not using
    Always turn off Christmas lights when you’re not using them. Some lights can also be controlled with an app, so you can set timers in case you forget.
  2. Pay attention to whether lights can be hung outdoors
    There are many different types of Christmas lights available, but not all can be used outside. Using indoor lights outdoors may cause safety issues.
  3. Beware when buying lights online
    While the internet makes it easy to purchase things, always ensure that the lights you buy meet current Australian standards. Visit the government’s Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) website to check if the lights you intend on buying are compliant.

You can always try to get a better deal on your electricity by comparing plans. Our free comparison service allows you to compare a range of plans from a variety of providers. If you find a plan you like, we can help you switch in as little as two business days.

Sources

  1. Energy Rating – ‘Types of Lighting’ – Accessed 25/11/2021
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avatar of author: Phillip Portman

Written by Phillip Portman

When he’s not busy writing, Phillip can usually be found at the movies, playing with his Italian Greyhound Wilma, hanging out with his cockatiel Tiki, or talking about everything pop culture. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Journalism and has previously written about health, entertainment, and lifestyle for various publications. Phillip loves to help others and hopes that people learn something new from his articles.

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