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Since You Asked: Christmas lights cost some, but give us more

I drive around town this time of year and see all of the Christmas lights, including my own, and often wonder how much it is costing us to exhibit so much holiday spirit.

I know some lights are cheaper than others to operate, but can you tell me what it costs to power those lights?

— Chuck B., Medford

Yes, we can, Chuck, but only because we asked someone with a connection to the power company (get it, a connection?)

Anyway, our power source (batta bing) at Pacific Power, none other than Monte Mendenhall, could shed some light (OK, we'll stop) on your question:

  • Traditional lights (old school) — These lights use about 5 watts per bulb. A Pacific Power residential customer with a rate of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour will pay $20.25 a month to operate 10 strings of 25-bulb traditional bulbs for six hours a day.
  • Miniature lights — The average miniature light uses 0.5 watts per bulb. Operating 10 strings of the bulbs, at 100-bulbs per string for the same six hours, will cost the typical residential customer $8.10 per month.
  • Icicle lights — Icicle lights use the same amount of energy per miniature bulb as miniature light strands, but a string of icicle lights with 100 bulbs will cover a much shorter distance than a straight string of miniature lights. Adding additional strands of lights will increase the typical residential customer's electricity usage.
  • LED lights — LED lights use only 0.05 watts per bulb, or one-tenth the amount of miniature bulbs. Due to their solid-state construction, these bulbs are safer and more durable. Ten sets of 100 of these LED bulbs will cost the typical residential customer $0.81 per month to operate.

Our man who knows watts up (we just can't help it) also noted that turning lights off when you go to bed and using an automatic timer will help save power — and save more money to help fill those stockings by the fireplace.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.