Get the Earth a gift this year – switch to LED holiday lights and save electricity. LEDs can reduce power use by 80-90% over incandescent lights. Lots has changed since the first electric holiday lights were switched on in mid-town Manhattan in 1882.

“Mini-LED lights use only four one-hundredths of a watt (0.04 Watt). The cost to light a string of 100 LED lights would be about $0.000496 per hour (0.0496 cents per hour). Along with the lowest operating costs, the LED lights also offer the longest operating life—typically rated at 20,000 hours or more.” (Source)

LEDs can be cheaper even after the higher upfront costs for the string of bulbs. Here’s how the EnergyStar website shows the power use. Electric rates vary across the U.S., so these may not be exact for your individual use.

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights (candelabra type) $10.00
LED C-9 lights $ 0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $ 2.74
LED Mini-lights $ 0.82

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Type of Light Cost
Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

Besides energy-saving, LEDs have other advantages according to EnergyStar:

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
  • Sturdier: LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass.
  • Longer lasting: The same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.
  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.


*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights. (Source)