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The cost of Christmas lights: when should you flick the switch? article
The cost of Christmas lights: when should you flick the switch? article

It’s difficult to ignore the rising energy costs this winter. Like nine out of 10 people in the UK, you might be delaying putting the heating on, opting for snuggly hoodie alternatives to keep warm, or are more wary of making small changes like switching off lights to try and keep your energy bills down and avoid falling into festive period debt.

So what does this mean for the Christmas season, when many people love to light up their homes with decorations, both indoors and out? Whether you prefer to keep things simple with a string of lights around your tree, or there’s fierce competition on your street for the best festive display, you may be rethinking your traditions this year.

Throughout the UK, many local councils have already made the decision to keep their lights switched off this Christmas as the cost is too high. But this doesn’t mean that you need to cancel plans altogether.

TV star Helen Flanagan revealed her festive home to the public on 4th November, but a survey last year found that only a quarter of Brits say it’s acceptable to have decorations up before December. Yet, with energy prices soaring, we wanted to find out if you could save cash by waiting for the big switch-on.

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Should I wait to put up my Christmas lights?

 We gathered product information on 16 different types of popular indoor and outdoor Christmas lights sold at high-street retailers, and then looked at the wattage to understand how much energy they might use over a six hour period. With this, we worked out how much they would cost per hour to run – and how much it might cost to light up your homes, depending on what you’re putting up this year, and when you flick the switch.

Our research found that if you wait two weeks more until 15 December to put up your lights, rather than straight away on 1 December, you could save up to £900, and still run them until 5 January. These savings jump to more than £1,500 if you’d usually put them up early on 16 November.

This figure is based on homes that are decked out in all of the 16 types of lights we analysed, including seven rope light archways, three motif designs, fairy lights, tinsel lights, two free standing items and an inflatable Santa.

For a more subtle combination of just Christmas tree lights and four rope lights, it would cost £665 to run for 50 days from 16 November, but if you wait almost a month the cost would drop to just £279.

If you want to pair an LED inflatable Santa with your Christmas tree lights, waiting until 15 December to reveal your display could cost £79 in energy – compared to £133 if you usually put your lights up on 1 December, or £193 on 15 November.

The most expensive light to run was a Santa rope light archway, costing £6.08 to run for six hours a day, while a set of indoor mains-powered fairy lights would only cost 12p. Although an LED inflatable Santa might make a big impact on the street, it costs just under £4 to run for six hours a day.

How much more will I have to pay for my electricity depending on when I put up my Christmas lights?

Like any household expense, it’s important to be aware of costs so you can stick to your budget and make sure you have enough to cover anything you spend.

According to the Energy Price Guarantee, the typical direct debit customer could be paying 96% more for their gas and electricity this year, so it’s important to be ready for any potential hikes in your bill due to your lights, before you decide to put them up.

Using our research we have created a handy Christmas Lights Calculator. If you’re thinking of putting up Christmas lights in your home, simply input the type of lights, how long you usually turn them on for, and the date you plan to put them up — and learn how much it might cost you over the festive period.

Christmas Lights Calculator
Rope Light (eg. LED Merry Christmas Rope Light)
Tinsel Light (eg. LED Christmas Tree Tinsel Light)
Motif (eg. LED snowflake light)
Inflatable (eg. inflatable Santa)
Freestanding items (eg. light-up snowman)
Fairy lights
How many hours will the lights be on each day?

 If you’re struggling with the rising costs this Christmas and are worried about falling into festive period debt, you’re not alone. Get in touch with the team at Creditfix where we can discuss the options available to take back control over your debt, including an IVA.


We have looked at 16 different Christmas light items available from Wilko and Argos, and looked at the wattage to understand how much energy they use.

We then used current kwh/hour costs of 34p per day to understand how much it will cost per hour to use each item, and created a number of scenarios to learn how much they would cost to run over time. All of the data uses the end date of 5th January, as this is 12 days after Christmas.

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Maxine McCreadie

Maxine is an experienced writer, specialising in personal insolvency. With a wealth of experience in the finance industry, she has written extensively on the subject of Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Protected Trust Deed’s, and various other debt solutions.

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Our debt experts, and insolvency practitioners continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

November 9 2022

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Maxine McCreadie