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Tiffany Spence

About "Ask the Energy Expert"

Tiffany Spence is an energy expert at Florida Power & Light Company. She’s conducted thousands of energy audits at homes and businesses, helping customers find new ways to make their bills even lower.

Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here

Don’t let those decorations leave you crying “Bah humbug!”

By Tiffany Spence

Asked on: October 26, 2016 by Rebecca P., Sarasota

How much can I expect my energy bill to go up in December with all the holiday decorations?

Hi Rebecca, as we approach the holiday season, it’s definitely a good idea to understand how much your decorations may impact your energy usage and bill. A number of things will influence your energy bill, such as how elaborate of a display you have, and the number of lights and choice of bulbs – incandescent or LED.  

Did you know that a 100-count string of incandescent mini lights runs at 40 watts, while a 70-count of 5mm LEDs is approximately 4.8 watts total? That means that the cost to power incandescent lights can be up to 90-times greater than powering LEDs. And, LED lights use about one-tenth the energy of old-fashion incandescent lights. Now, it’s true that LEDs are more costly upfront, but they may actually save you money in the long run. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting rid of all your incandescent lights all at once; wait until they don’t work anymore and then upgrade to LEDs. Unless of course, you’re interested in decking your halls like Clark Griswold, then I would definitely recommend using LEDs.

Calculate your holiday lighting energy usage
To find out the total watts you’ll be using, see the calculations below for a quick estimate:

  • Watts per bulb x number of bulbs on the string = total watts per string
  • Multiple total watts per string x how many strings of lights = total watts

Once you have an idea about many total watts you’ll be using:

  1. Multiply total watts by 0.001 to find the kilo-watt hour (kwh) = kwh
  2. Multiply kwh by 5 hours a day to find kwh per day = kwh/day
  3. Multiply kwh/day by 30 days = kwh/month
  4. Multiply kwh/month by the current FPL cost per kilo-watt of .113 cents = ESTIMATED COST

Now, that’s your cost based running your holiday display five hours per day for 30 days. Of course, you can control this cost by when you choose to put up your lights, how many strings you use and how long you have them on each evening is up to you and your budget. But, at least you can estimate how much it may add to your bill.

Have you ever wanted to put a giant inflatable reindeer or snowman in your yard?
As for those fun inflatable decorations that have become very popular in recent years, typical inflatables can cost anywhere from $2 - $9 a month, depending on the size, whether it’s animated or not, and how long you have it inflated each day.

Easy tips to help you save:

  1. Buy LEDs – they are more expensive up front, but you’ll save on energy costs in the future. Plus, they don’t radiate heat like incandescent bulbs, making them safer to people and other potentially combustible decorations.
  2. Use automatic timers –to ensure you’re running the lights or inflatable’s for a defined time period each day – fewer hours means less energy used.
  3. Use extension cords – instead of using light strings to add length to your display, utilize extension cords in less visible areas
  4. Be creative – supplement your holiday displays with ornaments such as wreaths, ribbons and other decorations that don't consume energy.

And most importantly, enjoy the holidays!

 

 

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