This thread is in desperate need of evidence and sources. Twenty minutes on google and I was able to come up with some home energy usage numbers for us to debate.
Here is a December 2002 press release from the DOE/Oak Ridge National Lab: LINK
Here are the cost averages the DOE calculated for a a thirty day/7hours per day outdoor "light display of 10 strings of 100 miniature lights and one 100-watt lighted Santa (510 watts total) in various parts of the country":
-- New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont): $22.52 (11.17 cents per kwh);
-- Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania): $22.96 (11.39 cents per kwh);
-- East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin): $16.57 (8.22 cents per kwh);
-- West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota): $14.82 (7.35 cents per kwh);
-- South Atlantic (Delaware, District of Colombia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia): $15.52 (7.7 cents per kwh);
-- East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee): $12.96; (6.43 cents per kwh);
-- West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas): $15.66 (7.77 cents per kwh);
-- Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming): $14.96 (7.42 cents per kwh);
-- Pacific Contiguous (California, Oregon and Washington): $17.60 (8.73 cents per kwh); and
-- Pacific Noncontiguous (Alaska and Hawaii): $29 (14.42 cents per kwh).
Here are energy use estimates from EPCOR, an Edmonton, CA energy company regarding outdoor Christmas lights (note, it's in Canadian dollars):
1 string of 25 lights/5 watts, run 4 hours/day = .90 cents
1 string of 25 lights/7 watts, run 4 hours/day = $1.25 cents
2 strings of mini lights/25 lights per strand, run 4 hours/day = .25 cents
Source: EPCOR pamphlet Ė pdf document
Here is a third source I discovered - Lamar Energy, in Barnesville, GA, LINK
. Here is their evaluation of the cost of Christmas lights on oneís overall monthly energy bill:
The Cost of Christmas Lighting
Occasionally some customers have noted that their electric bills increase some during the month of December. This is mostly due to extra holiday cooking, Christmas guests coming to stay with you, more time spent at home, and colder weather. Christmas lighting is usually not the culprit. I tested several types of Christmas lights and found that a typical lighted Christmas tree will use about $3.10 worth of electricity if left on four hours per day during the month of December. Larger holiday lights cost about 1Ę per strand per hour to operate. Unless you are doing something dramatic with holiday lighting, it should have a very small impact on your electric bill. Decorating with Christmas lights can be your brightest bargain this Christmas season. Use them safely and enjoy the holidays.
Youíll see the range of cost estimates are pretty broad depending on the source you chose.
I chose to use home energy usage numbers because it represents a portion of overall energy consumption and we really needed SOMETHING to work with here. I also chose it because it represents one's PERSONAL choice to determine if s/he will spend the money on lights. This is especially important in light of such statements like Joe's from his original post here:
While those lights are burning plants are churning out CO2 and someone is skimping on groceries to pay the heating bill.
This statement skews the issue and is really a non sequitur
. Citizen A's choice to use lights and possibly emit extra CO2 into the environment does not directly effect Citizen B's choice to starve or use Christmas lights as Joe seems to indicate. I don't see the sequence here or how one relates to the other. Perhaps you could clarify?
I also attempted to find numbers that support or dismiss the idea that Christmas light usage is taxing our overall power grids and increasing the amount of CO2 in the air as Joe alleges. I found no examples of major power outages or brownouts that have been caused by the burden of Christmas lights alone. Such black/brown outs are MUCH more likely to happen during summer seasons when many turn on the air conditioning.
My personal conclusion is that the energy costs created by Christmas lights are negligible in relation to other energy costs. So when are:
we as a society going to recognize that christmas lights are an inexcusable waste?
I think the answer is - not anytime soon because Christmas lights can't be demonstrated to be
an inexcusable waste. Itís pretty common knowledge by now that Energy Star rated appliances and properly insulated homes are much better sources of conserving home energy usage. So, unless youíre Clark Griswold, hang your lights and enjoy the season if thatís what you like to do. Donít let the Scrooges guilt you into darkness.