NEW ULM - Although many families are cutting expenses and look for ways to trim their budgets in preparation for the coming holiday season, they may be missing a common money waster hiding in a symbol of the holiday spirit.
Christmas lights, which adorn homes every November and December, can be substantial power wasters if they use incandescent bulbs. The New Ulm Public Utilities (NUPU) performed an estimate of the average cost of running Christmas lights for six hours a day, seven days a week over 30 days. NUPU found that when using incandescent lights, 250 bulbs (10 strings with 25 lights) would cost a household $19.75 and 600 bulbs would cost $47.40.
However, there is a way to maintain the Christmas tradition of covering a house in lights without high costs: LED bulbs. LED bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, using as little as a 15th of the wattage. This is because incandescent bulbs tend to turn most of the electricity into heat. For comparison, 250 LED bulbs cost a household $1.56 and 600 LED bulbs would cost $3.74.
NUPU has made an effort to encourage more families to purchase LED Christmas lights by offering a rebate of $5 chamber dollars per string with at least 25 lights.
"The Public Utilities offers this program to encourage people to buy energy efficient lighting for the holiday season and to promote energy saving lighting in general," said William Swanson, Energy Services Representative for NUPU.
A maximum of $25 will be issued to an individual. All Public Utilities Electric customers are eligible for the rebate. Rebates will not be issued for strings that cost under $5. Light strings, package and sales receipts can be brought to the Public Utilities office at 310 1st N. St. to receive the rebates.
Adding it up:
What it costs to run incandescent bulbs compared to LED bulbs during the holiday season (7 days a week for 6 hours a day for 30 days, or 1,260 hours of use)
Incandescent, 250 bulbs: 1,260 hours x 250 bulbs x .57 watts/bulb = 179,550W = 179.550kWh (179.550kWh x $0.11) = $19.75
LED lights, 250 bulbs: 1260hours x 250bulbs x .045 watts/bulb = 14,175W = 14.175kWh (14.175kWh x $0.11) = $1.56
Incandescent, 600 bulbs: 1,260 hours x 600 bulbs x .57 watts/bulb = 430,920W = 430.92kWh (430.92 kWh x $0.11) = $47.40
LED lights, 600 bulbs: 1260hours x 600 bulbs x .045 watts/bulb = 34,020W = 34.02kWh (34.02 kWh x $0.11) = $3.74