In the classic Christmas movie National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation, Clark Griswold’s mother-in-law nags Clark for spending so much on Christmas lights calling them a “…a silly waste of resources…” I have embedded the scene below in case you would like a refresher. This got me wondering, just how much did Clark spend on all those Christmas lights anyway? What about LED Chistmas lights, would those have saved Clark money? If you are a fan of Clark Griswold and pointless math like I am then lets figure it out together.
Clark used 250 strands with 100 bulbs per strand, similar to these best selling Christmas lights on Amazon for $9.38 per strand. Buying 250 of those suckers would have run Clark $2,345. Ouch, that is a lot.
The movie shows the electric meter spinning wildly when the house is finally light up, but in reality it’s not nearly that bad. In this article on clarkhoward.com last Christmas, I figured a strand of lights would run a heavy user about $1.11 per strand for the whole Christmas season. That isn’t as bad as the movie depicts, but that is still going to run old Mr. Griswold $277.50 in extra electricity bills for the Christmas season.
So it costs Clark Griswold $2,622.50 in the first year to have his Christmas lights. A silly waste of resources? Well…. maybe. But maybe it is worth it for the joy it brings his neighborhood.
What if Clark has used LEDs
Clark using high efficiency LED Christmas lights would have kept him from blacking out the rest of the neighborhood, but would it have saved him money? This set of solar powered 100 LED Christmas lights will cost you $10.99 per strand on Amazon, but the electricity is free since they are solar powered.
250 strands at $10.99 per strand will cost a total of $2,747.50. That is $125 more than the plain old incandescent lights.
That’s just the first year, what about the long run
One of the great things about LED bulbs is how long they last compared to old fashioned bulbs. How long do regular Christmas lights last? Three years maybe?
LED bulb manufacturers claim their bulbs will last almost forever, but that’s overly optimistic in my opinion. Lets assume with the wear and tear of taking those lights up and down every year they last 9 years.
If those assumptions are true, Clark would have saved a ton of money over those 9 years with the LED bulbs. Replacing incandescent lights 3 times over a 9 year period would have cost Clark a whopping $7,035! The electricity costs would have really added up too. The power bill would have been $2,498 over those nine years. That is a total cost of $9,533 over nine years, or an average of $1,060 per year. When you put it those terms, Christmas lights don’t seem like such a silly waste of resources after all.
The LED bulbs on the other hand, would have been practically a steal. Those 250 strands of LEDs would have stayed at $2,748 in expense over the 9 years, and those solar panels would have kept the power bill at 0. That means the average cost of LED Christmas lights amortized over a nine year period is a fairly reasonable $307/year. Over the course of 9 years Clark would have saved a total of $6,785.
Wow! The next time my Christmas light bulbs start to go bad, I will be going with LEDs.
Now, to get everybody in the Christmas spirit, let’s enjoy Clark’s light show.