Decorating is one of the highlights of the holiday season, from picking out the perfect tree to setting out wreaths, hanging stockings, and placing all your seasonal knickknacks. But if there’s one addition to your home’s festive flair that outshines the rest, it’s Christmas lights. These twinkling adornments can turn the outside of any home into a radiant holiday spectacle. However, while Christmas lights are undoubtedly beautiful, they can also come with a hefty price tag.
With inflation rates hitting record highs and utility costs soaring right along with them, we wanted to see how much more people have to pay to run Christmas lights this year. To find this out, we analyzed each state’s estimated cost of powering Christmas lights in 2021 and 2022. We first took each state’s average house footage and electricity rate, and then researched the most common decorations used by American households, based on some of the most popularly bought items from The Home Depot. This included the following:
- Three to five sets of hanging icicle lights that are 13.25 feet each.
- Two sets of string lights that are 28.8 feet each for columns and entryways.
- Two 6-foot inflatable yard decorations.
With this data, we calculated how many Christmas lights were needed to light each home and how much it would cost to power them. The price associated with each state is the total cost to power lights from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
- The national average cost of running Christmas lights in 2022 is $16.48.
- That’s 13% higher than the 2021 national average, an increase of $1.93.
- New Hampshire had the largest percent increase (40%) in the cost of running Christmas lights from 2021 to 2022, while Montana decreased by 1%.
- The cost to run Christmas lights in Hawaii had the largest price increase from 2021 to 2022, a massive $10.59.
Complete Data Set
Here are the complete results of our study, including the 2021 and 2022 cost of Christmas lights, as well as the amount and percentage increase from year to year. We also included a graphic representing each state’s percentage change in cost over the last year.
|State||2022 Total Cost||2021 Total Cost||% Increase||$ Increase|
Most and Least Expensive States
After calculating the cost of running Christmas lights in each state, we organized them by most to least expensive. The following graphic details the top five most and least expensive states to run Christmas lights in 2022.
The top five most expensive states for Christmas lights include Hawaii at No. 1, at $38.46, followed by New Hampshire at $27.85, California at $27.65, Massachusetts at $27.03, and Connecticut at $27.01.
While it might be a surprise that a tropical location like Hawaii would have the highest cost for running Christmas lights, it makes sense considering the state’s electricity rates. Hawaii has the highest electricity costs in the country, at $.038 cents per Kilowatt-hour. The Aloha State also saw one of the largest increases in its utility costs from 2021 to 2022, with energy bills going up by about 36%.
The cheapest state to run Christmas lights is Washington, at only $10.51, followed by Idaho at $10.91, Oregon at $11.75, Nebraska at $11.89, and North Carolina at $12.57.
While electricity rates play a major role in the cost of Christmas lights, the lower end of our list shows that other factors also matter. When looking at which states have the cheapest electricity bills, Washington and Idaho line up with our list, as they also have the lowest prices for running Christmas lights. However, numbers three, four, and five deviate considerably, as according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Utah has the third-lowest electrical bills in the country, followed by Montana, Oregon, and Nebraska. This discrepancy shows us that, as your electricity becomes cheaper, other factors like home size play a more important role in the cost of Christmas lights.
Yearly Changes in the Cost of Running Christmas Lights
Next, we looked at how much the cost of running Christmas lights changed between 2021 and 2022. To find these numbers, we calculated each state’s yearly cost, then measured the difference. Here are the states with the biggest and smallest increases.
The state that saw the biggest increase goes to New Hampshire, with a whopping 40%. Right behind was Hawaii at 38%, Illinois at 32%, Connecticut at 28%, and Oklahoma at 27%.
The states that saw the biggest price increases are also many with the highest total cost in 2022, but there are some notable differences. First is that the top two spots switched; while New Hampshire saw greater increase in cost from 2021, it still couldn’t overcome Hawaii’s expensive baseline electricity rate. Next, while seeing the third-highest cost increase, Illinois did not even make the top five of the most expensive in 2022, instead being just above the national average at $17.22. Lastly, Oklahoma ranked fifth for one of the highest increases but still has a relatively low total cost, well below the national average at $14.65.
The states with the lowest price increases include Idaho at 0.2%, Michigan at 0.2%, Oregon at 1%, and Nebraska at 1%. Out of all the states in the U.S., only Montana saw a price decrease from 2021. Last year, Montana’s Christmas light cost was estimated at $13.80 but dropped by 10 cents this year to $13.70.
Hanging Christmas lights is a fun, beautiful, family-friendly tradition that has become a staple of the holiday season. Unfortunately, as inflation and electricity prices rise, the cost of powering up Christmas lights will also increase. Today, the price tag associated with putting up Christmas lights is expensive, up to nearly $40 in some states. Thankfully, recent forecasts from the Federal Reserve look bright, as they predict inflation cooling off in 2023 and 2024.
We found the average linear footage of the roof line on one side of the home for each state to determine how many strands of lights would be needed. We chose a typical decoration setup: lights along the roofline, lights down columns (or lining an entryway), and two inflatable yard decorations. We chose top-rated products at The Home Depot: incandescent hanging icicle lights, LED string lights, and two 6-foot inflatables.
By finding the wattage usage of the products and the average electricity rate of each state, we were able to calculate the total cost of running Christmas lights from 6 p.m. to midnight throughout the season from after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.