‘Watt’ Do Christmas Lights Cost?

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When the holidays roll around, everything seems to get brighter … literally. Reds, blues, yellows, greens and all the other colors of the rainbow adorn houses, trees, lawn ornaments and more to celebrate the season. But what does it cost to run those lights?

Take, for example, the Nelsonville Public Square and it’s dazzling display of lights and decorations. It would be tedious to count all those lights and even some gentle prodding of Nelsonville City Council President Kevin Dotson would only yield an estimate from him of “thousands” of lights being used.

Each one of those lights need a certain amount of power to exhibit it’s color. The Messenger questioned American Electric Power to find out just how much.

According to Faye White, of AEP Ohio’s corporate communications department, the costs vary depending on the type of bulbs used, the size of the display and the amount of hours operated per day.

Traditionally, Christmas light bulbs are larger C7 and C9 bulbs as well as mini lights and LEDs which are more energy-efficient.

The information provided by AEP assumes a typical display of 10 strings of bulbs running an average of five hours per day at an electric rate of 12 cents per kilowatt hour.

For C7 and C9 bulbs, an estimated 5-7 watts are used and the monthly operating cost ranges from $23-$31.

Mini lights run about .4 watts with a monthly operating cost of $7 and LEDs use only .04 watts and have a monthly operating cost of $.72.

Nelsonville City Deputy Auditor Brenda Anderson provided The Messenger with some costs incurred by the city to operate street lights, which includes the light displays in the Square. In December of 2013, the electric bill was $5,180.40. That cost is expected to rise however for this December’s bill as electric rates have increased over the past year.

November’s bill for the city required a payment of $6,110.41. Again, these numbers are for the city’s overall street lighting costs as information as to the cost of only running the Christmas light displays was not able to be calculated.

Dotson told The Messenger that the city uses a good number of mini lights and LEDs which helps lower the costs. Either way, the response still seems positive for those who take in the sight.

“We’ve heard nothing but good about the lights,” said Dotson. “The people really seem to enjoy it and more people have been seen around the Square this year. I think it’s catching on.”