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Excessive Holiday Lights Don't, In Fact, Cost an Arm and a Lexus

Over the weekend, a peculiar story surfaced about the Faucher family in Delaware, who allegedly spent $82K on a month's worth of electricity to power their collection of one million holiday lights (above). The piece, researched and penned by the blog House Logic, made it to Unplggd, Gizmodo, Philly's Fox TV affiliate, and even across the pond to Britain's Daily Mail. The rapid dissemination was surely due to the many shocking angles of the story: the waste of energy, the massive cost, the lack of neighborly restraint. It pushed all the buttons, for sure. But we had a sinking suspicion that it couldn't possibly be true. Eighty-two thousand dollars? A month? For holiday lights? On a seemingly average home in a town where the median home value hovers around $225K?

It turns out the numbers weren't very realistic after all, and here's why. House Logic's calculations used retailer Christmas Light Source's energy cost calculator, but assumed that all of the bulbs in the Fauchers' display were the big-bulb C7 variety rather than standard mini-lights. The photos of the Faucher's home say otherwise. The difference might seem a matter of taste (below), but when multiplied a million times, the energy savings can be drastic.

In order to determine a more accurate figure, we went back to the Christmas Light Source calculator with a bit of our own data. Using the Department of Energy's latest average cost-per-kilowatt-hour for the state of Delaware ($0.1402), the cost for one million C7 bulbs came to $701 per hour, even higher than House Logic's number ($686). When the one million was applied instead to mini lights, the number dropped to $63.09 per hour. A substantial sum, no doubt, but still just 9 percent of the earlier estimate and cheaper even than C7-equivalent LEDs. Given four hours of use per day, the total cost for the month of a million lights? $7,570.80. Now, to be fair, it's unlikely that all the lights are mini-bulbs, so we computed what it would cost to light the house if half the bulbs were C7-size and half minis: $45,844.80. Undoubtedly a pricey taste of holiday cheer, but still an unrealistic scenario in itself and, even still, a far cry from $82K.

· 4 Dazzling Home Holiday Light Shows: They Cost HOW Much?! [HouseLogic]
· How Much Energy Do These Famous Light Shows Use? [Unplggd]
· It Costs $82,000 to Light the One Million Christmas Lights at this House [Gizmodo]
· Home Has 1 Million Christmas Lights [MyFoxPhilly.com]
· Consider these halls decked: The house with one MILLION Christmas lights (so how much does it cost?) [Daily Mail]
· Bear, DE Real Estate Market [AOL Real Estate]
· Christmas Lights Electricity Cost Calculator [Christmas Light Source]
· Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State [U.S. Dept. of Energy]