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Christmas lights add £79 million to nation’s energy bills

Christmas lights add £79 million to nation’s energy bills

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New Uswitch research has found that Brits are keen to get into the Christmas spirit in 2020, with four million people putting their festive lights in November.

Of those who put their lights up before December, 59% said they wanted their displays to brighten up lockdown. After a rollercoaster year, UK households switched their lights on an average of five days earlier than usual, with the most common date being 26 November.

People are also keen to carry the festive spirit into the New Year, with many planning to keep their lights up until 7 January - a day later than last year.

The cost of Christmas spirit

It seems we’re no longer satisfied with a bit of tinsel, with the average household’s light display now costing £52. Most festive displays have more than two types of decoration, with fairy lights being the most popular. Glowing reindeer are also popular, followed by light-up Santas and snowmen.

Aside from the upfront spend, it seems many people don’t consider the extra cost to their energy bills, with only two in five (39%) checking the power consumption or energy efficiency of lights before they buy.

For the full 43-day festive period, a household with 200 fairy lights and an illuminated reindeer could add £11 to their energy bill by keeping their lights on for six hours a night. With seven million people having outdoor light displays, this could add £79 million to the UK’s energy bills.

But if all those households switched to energy-efficient LED lights, their bills would only increase by an average of £1.10 for the Christmas period - a tenth of the current cost.

Which regions were most keen for Christmas lights?

Londoners were the first to switch their Christmas lights on, with more than a quarter (28%) lighting up their homes as early as November. Those in Northern Ireland held off until later, with just 7% turning their lights on last month.

Region People turning Xmas lights on in November
London 28%
West Midlands 17%
South East 16%
East Midlands 14%
North West 14%
Scotland 12%
South West 12%
East of England 11%
Yorkshire and Humberside 11%
Wales 10%
North East 9%
Northern Ireland 7%

And it seems there aren’t only arguments on when to switch on the lights - 15% of households have got into disagreements with their neighbours about them, with 44% of rows caused by tacky-looking displays. Despite this, most people are keen to get into the festive spirit, with 77% of people saying they like Christmas light displays.

Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch, said: “The big displays can look very impressive, but they can also dramatically increase energy consumption, particularly if they are using old, non-LED lights.”

“If you are planning to buy some lights, it is always worth checking the labels to see how much energy they use. LED lights are very energy efficient, and will help to prevent you starting your New Year with a nasty surprise on your energy bills."

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