With Christmas rapidly approaching and neighborhoods throughout North America intricately decorated with a variety of Christmas lights, I can’t help but ponder how many folks are using LED Christmas lights, and whether or not I can identify an LED set from an incandescent as I stroll down the block.

For the sake of curiosity, I stopped by a store on the way home from the office one evening to compare the regular incandescent and LED Christmas lights. While, I’m not a Christmas light expert and I don’t know which may be better for certain weather conditions and visual effects, I do contend that most of the LED Christmas lights sold are just as good in terms of color and brightness as any incandescent set. For example, the advertised lights below are described as having a “warm, traditional glow” similar to that of incandescent.

Looks pretty good to me!

If there’s no discernible difference in lighting quality, then the deciding factor when it comes to buying LED Christmas lights is, “How much money will I save each Christmas season?” Obviously, savings depends on where you live, which lights are used, and how long the lights are on (and your level of Christmas spirit). But let’s consider the math. A 100-count string of incandescent lights runs at about 40 watts. A similar set with LED lights runs at about 5 watts (about 88% less power). With the average price of electricity in the U.S. of 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour (EnergyStar.Gov), the average cost of powering incandescent Christmas lights this season can range from $10.78 to $310.73. Using the same parameters for LED lights, the range is $1.63 to $40.15. That’s a pretty big price difference. I am interested to see if any utilities have noticed a change in loads during the Christmas season due to more homes adopting LEDs.

How much money do you think this home spends on Christmas lighting? How much do you think they would save if they used LEDs?

Happy Holidays everyone! See you in 2015!

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David Simons
Sr Forecast Analyst - Itron
David Simons is a Forecast Analyst with Itron’s Forecasting Division. Since joining Itron in 2013, Simons has assisted in the support and implementation of Itron’s short-term load forecasting solutions for GRTgaz, Hydro Tasmania, IESO, New York ISO, California ISO, Midwest ISO, Potomac Electric Power Company, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Bonneville Power Administration and Hydro-Québec. He has also assisted Itron’s Forecasting Division in research and development of forecasting methods and end-use analysis. Prior to joining Itron, Simons conducted empirical research, performed operations analysis and data management for a nonprofit, and lectured in economics at San Diego State University while pursuing his master’s degree. Some of his empirical research includes examining the behavioral factors that influence educational attainment in adolescents and the environmental implications of cross-border integration. Simons received a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Economics from San Diego State University.