How much do Christmas tree lights cost to run? Expert tips for a festive glow that won't burn through your budget

Here's how much it costs to light up your tree over the festive period

Neutral living room filled with Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

It's December, which means Christmas will be right around the corner before you know it. If you've finally got around to decorating for the festivities and putting your tree up, you might be curious about how much Christmas tree lights cost to run. 

Despite it being the festive season, because we're still surrounded by cost of living concerns, it's natural to stay conscious of ways to save energy at home. While it's a given that the newest and best Christmas lights on the market are sure to be more energy-efficient than those lights you've been keeping in the garage all these years, rest assured that the cost of running your lights isn't one to stress about.

Whether you've opted for the best artificial Christmas tree or have taken the time to choose and care for a real Christmas tree this season, we've teamed up with experts who have broken down just how much you can expect to pay to run your lights the whole festive period under the current energy price cap, so you know what figures to expect in your bills come next year.

Decorated Christmas tree in furnished living room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

How much do Christmas tree lights cost to run?

Ava Pope, energy saving expert at Love Energy Savings has calculated how much it costs to light a Christmas tree. It of course will depend completely on the type of Christmas lights you have, but we've provided an example for your ease and understanding.

Cost of running Christmas tree lights

On average, most people use two strings of 100 lights for their Christmas tree, adding up to 80 watts of energy. This is under the assumption that you're using lights without LED bulbs. You can find out the kW of your specific set of lights by taking the wattage of each of your string of lights (typically found on the packaging) and multiplying that number by 0.001.

If your lights are left on for 6 hours a day, then 0.08kW x 6 hours will mean a 0.48kW output. Following the decreased energy price cap of 27p per kW, keeping your lights on for 6 hours a day for the whole festive period will roughly cost you £5.05. This is assuming that you put your Christmas tree up on November 27th, the beginning of Advent and plan to keep it up until January 5th, the Twelfth Night.

This is based on the calculation: 0.48 (output) x 0.27 (cost) x 39 (days) = 5.05.

Neutral living room filled with Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC)

However, if you have yet to put your tree up then the cost will naturally be lower, costing you just £3.89 if you only plan to keep your lights running for 30 days. That's more or less just the price of one coffee! So considering you can keep your home twinkly all winter long for less than £4 seems well worth that price to pay.

Alternatively, you can use online calculators to help you figure out the specific amount you can expect to pay to run your Christmas tree lights if you're unsure.

And of course, exercising safety with Christmas lights is of paramount importance. Be sure to switch the lights off before you go to bed as the cost could triple if you leave lights on overnight, not to mention, the potential fire hazard that could arise from that.

white wall with curtains and christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC)

How to reduce running costs

We understand that being cost-efficient this festive period is important to many, hence the many budget Christmas decorating ideas we've seen floating around.

So, while the average cost to run Christmas tree lights of around £5 is a cost that many are prepared to pay to enjoy the cosy atmosphere that a twinkling tree gives at night, rest assured that there are ways to cut those costs further.

1. Switch to LED Christmas lights

'Simple changes such as using LED lights instead of non-LED lights can help to reduce your energy usage by 10%, going a long way to reducing costs,' advises James Longley, managing director at Utility Bidder.

Amit Juneja, managing director at The Christmas Workshop has revealed that lighting your Christmas tree could set you back as little as one penny per week by making a simple switch.

Finance expert, Martin Lewis even comments and says that LED lights are 'not very expensive to run' and allow households fearing soaring energy bills to 'keep that bit of Christmas going.'

A Christmas-decorated living room with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Switching to LED Christmas lights can cost you as little as around 0.0002p per hour to run, equating to just 1 penny per week when left on for 6 hours a day. This is based on a string of 100 LED lights, like these LED Chaser Christmas Lights from Amazon.

Given that an average household uses two sets of 100 indoor Christmas tree lights, this will cost you around 0.12p per hour to run. This equates to just 5 pence per week if you keep your lights on for 6 hours.

Silver chrome festive living room, Christmas tree in small space behind sofa, lit fire.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Blackmore Photography Ltd)

2. Use battery-powered lights

Connor Campbell, personal finance expert at NerdWallet recommends opting for battery-powered Christmas lights for those who 'have stashes of batteries hidden in drawers.' If you're looking for a reason to make use of them, there's no greater time than for lighting your tree.

'This means that electricity from the mains power supply isn’t being used, and if you use LED battery-powered lights, they will last longer than incandescent lights, saving you money on batteries in the long run,' he explains.

Decorated Christmas tree in a country style brown living room, white sofa, cushions, fireplace, lit fire, decorated mantelpiece, large mirror, coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

3. Opt for different settings

'The cost of indoor and outdoor lights differs based on the product, but money can be saved by using differing settings on your lights – perhaps opting for an intermittent 'flashing' setting,' suggests James.

4. Keep usage to a minimum

And of course, more than anything, a certain way to save money is by simply reducing your usage to when it's only necessary.

'Saving money isn't solely down to the product though, with other personal traits also playing a huge part,' explains James. 'Most UK households are likely to add additional lights to their home over the Christmas period, either decoratively or on the tree. You should try to keep this usage to a minimum, switching these off in the daytime light, at bedtime, or when you are out of the house.'

Neutral living room filled with Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

So, next time a relative asks if your lavish Christmas tree display uses lots of electricity, you can tell them that lighting your tree for 6 hours a day across the festive period isn't costing you more than a coffee and a half.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less. 

With contributions from